One of the biggest and longest debates that’s raged between Manchester United fans over the past few years, isn’t whether Luke Shaw needs the Atkins Diet or a gastric band, but are we getting the best from Paul Pogba?
United’s mercurial Frenchman – it’s mandatory to call all French footballers mercurial, just as every left foot is ‘cultured’ and every Liverpool fan ‘deluded’- has divided a lot opinion ever since he arrived for around £90 million from Juventus two seasons ago. In many ways that’s not even wholly true, he was dividing opinion as a youngster back in 2012 when his contract demands/lack of playing time/Mino Raiola conspired to see him leave Old Trafford.
Since he’s returned Pogba has given us the ridiculously sublime and the sublimely ridiculous, tearing teams apart, ala the second half at the Etihad, and disappearing into anonymity such as during the FA Cup final.
Pogba often suffers from over zealous analysis of his performances where his fanboys claim an average performance against lowly teams means he’s destined for the Ballon D’or while a relatively poor showing underlines the idea from his critics that he should be dropped immediately, sold and forced to pay back the £90 million transfer from his own pockets.
In many ways the criticism Pogba receives from pundits has galvanised many United fans into defending him, such is the ridiculous nature of his detractors, who seem to treat his haircut as some of Samson-esque influence draining his ability to play football.
Mark Lawrenson was the latest commentator to join the ranks of the idiotic by launching something of a tirade against Pogba during the France v Australia clash, claiming the midfielder should concentrate on his football rather than his haircut. It was a comment of Ortis Deley proportions, so out of touch and meaningless it had the former Liverpool player being roundly and rightly ridiculed on social media.
Pogba let his football do the talking – as he often does – and it was his through ball to Antoine Griezmann which led to France’s opener via the penalty spot, while his late run and deflected shot bagged Les Bleus the winner. Ouch. Sorry Mark.
United fans will be hoping Pogba can stay injury free and use the World Cup as a platform to build up some momentum going into next season, as well as silence his critics, many of whom seem to be ex-Liverpool players. Graeme Souness’s criticism of Pogba is getting so obsessive you can imagine the former Galatasaray boss sitting in a padded cell soon, rocking furiously, mumbling ‘Pogba doesn’t have an understanding of the game’ in between injections of sedatives.
We all know what Pogba is capable of, on the pitch rather than the barbers and the vast majority of sane United fans, won’t give a toss what barnet he has or what he posts on Instagram, the only concern will be what he does on the pitch.
If it’s anything like what he produced in France’s opening World Cup game, then United fans can be confident, next season may just be his best yet.