Premier League

Nurturing 'Pogfeelings' crucial to United's chances

 • by Simon Mail
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Manchester United boss José Mourinho described Paul Pogba as a “monster” after his dominant performance in their opening Premier League victory over Leicester City.

The France World Cup winner cast aside any fitness concerns to produce a superb display at Old Trafford but talk over his future just will not go away. Most of that is down to Pogba after he said: “If you’re not happy, you cannot give your best.

“There are things I cannot say otherwise I will get fined.”

This must be a major concern for United supporters because the club simply cannot afford to lose their prized asset.

Mourinho must mend relations

It is clear for all to see Mourinho and Pogba have had their differences over the last year.

The conservative approach of the United boss appears to be at odds with Pogba’s natural inclination to go forward and the midfielder was sacrificed last season at times including when starting on the bench in both legs of their disastrous Champions League exit against Sevilla.

Pogba’s world-class ability was showcased at times during France’s World Cup triumph in Russia this summer and it is no surprise Barcelona have been heavily linked with him.

Reports have circulated over the last month Pogba wants to leave United and his latest comments following the win over Leicester have only fuelled more rumours.

The likelihood is United will hold onto the 25-year-old beyond the end of this transfer window but his long-term future looks precarious.

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It is fair to say United fans have yet to see the best of Pogba for their team but there have been flashes of his brilliance.

Powerful Pogba crucial for United

His power and control on the ball was evident against Leicester with the midfielder, who scored from the penalty spot, making 6.42 successful take-ons.

It was a highly impressive performance, especially considering Pogba had only just returned to training following his break after the World Cup.

He remains a frustrating player to watch because he is capable of such majestic football yet too often cuts a languid figure.

This was certainly the case last season for United although he still managed 0.41 assists per 90 minutes which was the top ranking for eligible players in his position.

He also produced an average of 1.29 open play key passes per 90 which was third highest among midfielders.

Despite these stats, there was still a sense the former Juventus midfielder was playing with the handbrake on for long spells.

Ultimately much of this was related to Mourinho’s influence and a reluctance to throw off the shackles and release him into attacking areas.

There seems little doubt this has had a negative effect on their fractious relationship and has carried into this season.

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But United can ill afford to lose Pogba especially after such limited transfer activity this summer. The arrival of Fred could enable Pogba to get forward more but there remains a lack of star power in the Old Trafford ranks.

Losing Pogba would be a hugely damaging blow to a club which look as if they are still a long way behind champions Manchester City.

If United want to be taken seriously as a major threat both in the Premier League and the Champions League, it is critical Pogba both rediscovers his ‘happiness’ to produce peak form and remains at the club.

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