£89 million is a whole lot of money to spend on a player that hasn’t become quite the finished product, but the fact that the potential is there for him to eventually turn into a great player was influential in Manchester United’s decision to fork out such an obscene amount for Paul Labile Pogba.
Less than 10 games to life in his 2nd stint at Old Trafford and he has come under some heavy scrutiny. Particularly because he hasn’t been able to get ahold of games by the scruff of the neck. And more so due to the 3-match losing streak the team experienced in the last 2 weeks.
A player that was a few months ago at the center of an interesting transfer tussle between the Real Madrids, Barcelonas, PSGs, Chelseas and Manchester Citys of this world has now suddenly become the butt of jokes, internet memes (actually enjoyed a couple of them; don’t judge me), and the pitchforks are all out just for him.
Understandably, for that price and in the version 188.8.131.52 of the world we live in, the patience is not there, both in the fans and in the press, and pitifully, not only is the 23-year old Pogba under enormous pressure to deliver, the watching world is also under pressure to see him ever live up to that huge expectations.
A $100 million man should be scoring haul-tricks, creating at least 20 goalscoring chances and making 10 assists per game (throw in some 30 successful tackles, 40 interceptions and about 50 successful dribbles). He hasn’t made any of the contributions thus far, and has been blamed by many for trying to do just too much often times.
But isn’t it too early to start hauling stones at the France international? He (re)arrived at the Theatre of Dreams following an underwhelming campaign at the European Championships, and he hasn’t found re-settling down to the new life easy.
At Juve, he came to prominence with Vidal and Pirlo by his side in the middle of the pitch. These veterans guided and helped him grow. Even after the duo’s departure, and an assumption of the main man role at the heart of the Old Lady midfield, he still had limitless freedom to play a free role as Khedira and Marchisio covered grounds and did the dirty work behind him.
He hasn’t gotten such luxury at United. Even in a France national team that had Kante and Matuidi in the middle of the pack, Pogba couldn’t excel at the Euros as he was restricted as a result of playing a more defensive midfield role.
Under Mourinho, he is playing in a midfield of 2, alongside a certain much-maligned Marouane Fellaini, who practically knows next to nothing about holding possession or providing defensive covers without flapping his arms like wings and committing unnecessary fouls in the process.
Many believe Carrick or even Herrera will do a better job, with Pogba shining as a result. But even if Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, and a flop-of-a-midfield-struggling Rooney are all thrown alongside the aforementioned duo in the midfield to complement Pogba’s natural qualities, they still wouldn’t get the job done. (Perhaps an over-exaggeration, but not in terms of their average qualities)
His slow start hasn’t only boiled down to archaic, rigid and boring tactics stubbornly employed by the Special One, the enabling environment that would let Pogba continue his ascension to the highest echelons of soccer just isn’t in place. The player himself will have to find his ground all by himself. But that won’t happen when he is barely 10-games old at the club.
Cut the boy some slack. Even Rome wouldn’t be built in a day with all the money in the world.