Paul Pogba's recent performances have been reminiscent of the player from Juventus: he is respectful, humble and is not looking for excuses. Suddenly he has become a team player again. He’s earning the right to play. However, let's reserve judgement as we have been here before – Pogba needs to be consistently excellent; great players don’t play well the odd game, they have consistency.
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However, this week, at least, Pogba has been - alongside Bruno Fernandes - United's best player. If the season was over three games then great. It’s quite interesting that his level has spiked as United start to challenge at the top.
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If he wants to leave, there’s no better place to showcase yourself than playing for a team that’s competing to win a league title. It is a win-win if Manchester United finish as champions and Pogba gets a move. In fact, he might have thought, ‘I need to change my attitude. If the team are playing well and challenging for the title and I’m not involved, then what good am I?’. Would clubs have spent money on Pogba the way things were going before Christmas?
Pogba hits spectacular Fulham winner
Image credit: Getty Images
In 2020 he was been playing in the shadow of Fernandes and that will have dented his ego too.
Pogba was signed for a big fee; his marketability and profile - as well as his playing ability - suited Manchester United. But the best profile you can ever have is to be an excellent footballer, and while Fernandes came in with a much lower profile, his status has outgrown Pogba’s and for the right reasons: he’s at the top of the tree for being brilliant.
And you can’t beat competition. In any industry, if competition comes along and you just sulk about it, then you’re not going to survive. You have to improve to get respect. Paul Ince was in a constant battle with Roy Keane to show who was the best central midfield player and in that 1993/94 season we won an FA Cup and Premier League title. Nothing beats competition.
Fernandes quickly became the key man when he arrived and it became Manchester United and Fernandes, not Pogba. It was Pogba before for the wrong reasons, now it’s Fernandes for goals and assists. United need that from Pogba now to challenge for the title, for him to not drop below a 7/10 in any game,
No one has won the league title yet, it’s only January.
United have an opportunity in the FA Cup against Liverpool, who are still beset by a few injuries. They are stretched, one or two of the young lads will have to come in at centre-back. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks he has a strong squad then use it. It is better to not have three holding players on the pitch, instead go and put players out there who are going to try to win a game of football.
United are on a great run, and are in a good place, but they can improve that by beating Liverpool. In three weeks' time no one will care about what the teams were, but United should be able to say they beat Liverpool and are in the next round. The Red Devils can win it. The players will want it. Even under lockdown, you don’t want to be a United player around Manchester, having lost to Liverpool.
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