It wasn’t so long ago that a front four of Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Dan James, and Marcus Rashford could be seen marauding Old Trafford, attempting to convince everyone that they could take the club to silverware. And Paul Pogba would have looked at that frontline, looked at the contract in front of him, and probably winced. He joined Manchester United to win, and that squad was not exactly one you’d describe as winners.
One year later, however, and that aforementioned contract has gone from a pot of fake silver to a perfectly presented pot of gold. In one year, those at the Theatre of Dreams have, in fact, gone through a transformation only fantasised about before. They have gone from Martial and James, to Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho; from Lingard to Bruno Fernandes. And Pogba has gone from a future elsewhere to closer and closer to a Manchester United stay, according to David Ornstein, of The Athletic.
Positive Paul Pogba Contract Talks Highlights How Far Manchester United Have Come
United Finally Seeing the ‘France Paul Pogba’
To much frustration, Paul Pogba’s Manchester United career has often consisted of the what could have been. The usual scenario saw the midfielder underwhelm for club before becoming a completely different player for France, who he helped to the World Cup in 2018. With Cristiano Ronaldo to impress, however, we have seen the France Paul Pogba and then some since the start of the season. You could even argue that it’s the best start to the season that he’s ever made, assisting seven goals in four games.
His red hot form comes off the back of an impressive, albeit shorter than expected, Euro 20202, where he was arguably France’s best player in amongst players like Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema. But, strangely enough, that form did not spark optimism. Instead it sparked a fear that it would happen again; that Pogba would underwhelm for club despite impressing for country. Yet, so far, the opposite has occurred. The Frenchman has never been better in a United shirt; United have never been better post-Sir Alex Ferguson.
The fact is, as much as it will pain rival fans, and undoubtedly Graeme Souness, Paul Pogba and this new-look United team have the look of title winners. All over the pitch, you can pick out at least one star player, from a dominant backline to a star-studded frontline and Pogba in between.
Midfield Pivot: The Only Weakness
When looking at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, again, it is hard to find anyone who doesn’t belong. But, when taking a more microscopic look, one weakness stands out. And that is the midfield pivot. Scott McTominay does a fine job, the criticism is not for the dominant Scotsman; it’s for his partner, Fred. The Brazilian could singlehandedly pull United’s title charge apart.
Against Wolves, he was bullied by Adama Traore in a game which should have seen United lose. He was loose in possession, even though his passing lacks ambition. Without being too harsh, it really is difficult to see what he offers this United side. He is the unexciting, underwhelming rock amongst a sea of diamonds.
Fred’s lack of form may even effect Paul Pogba, who will need to play in the pivot to accommodate Cristiano Ronaldo in the frontline. Pogba played his best football at Old Trafford when on the left, and not many in the world would have displaced him. As it happens, however, one of the only players that could, arrived back in Manchester, forcing Jadon Sancho wide, and Ronaldo through the middle.
It will become increasingly interesting throughout the season just how much Solskjaer accommodates for Ronaldo. If Pogba struggles in the pivot, caught out on the break with his attacking exploits limited, will it be the more press-eager Sancho dropped, or the ageing, albeit inhuman, Ronaldo dropped? Our bet lies with Sancho.
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