Paul Pogba is the Manchester United transfer Erik ten Hag must avoid - Tyrone Marshall

Paul Pogba is the Manchester United transfer Erik ten Hag must avoid – Tyrone Marshall


Paul Pogba signed for Manchester United in the middle of the night and if Old Trafford’s social media moderators want a quiet day, they may well announce his departure in the early hours of the morning as well.

Pogba’s £89million signing announcement six years ago was timed for an audience who have just woken up in China and spent the day in America. If it was a guess Manchester fans didn’t care about viral ads on social media, then they certainly don’t care that the 29-year-old may have played his last game for the club.

In 2016 United confirmed the signing with the soon to be all the rage #Pogback, now all the fans want to see #Poggone. There were 226 appearances for United in Pogba’s second coming, but the lows significantly outweigh the highs. There were sporadic spells as the World Cup winner hinted he could start producing this world-class form for United on a regular basis, but that was never sustained.

READ MORE: United confirm Pogba departure

Injuries would derail progress as often as form and in the end he just didn’t look like an £89million midfielder. That one of his most productive spells came on the left wing tells you all about the impact he had in midfield, the position he was meant to dominate on his return to the club from Juventus. .

As an epitaph, Pogba’s nine minutes at Anfield on Tuesday is probably a good way out. He was hampered by Jordan Henderson’s intelligence and movement for Liverpool’s first goal, was injured soon after and left the field unassisted, well aware of the storm that was beating down on his teammates.

The reaction from the away side, where applause was almost non-existent, said it all. Thanks for nothing.

In a way, signing Pogba sums up United’s confused and star-studded transfer strategy of recent years. There was marketing lure for the return of Pogba – one of the most marketable players in the world – to Old Trafford, the Disneyland of football, as Ed Woodward might have it.

But on the pitch, it didn’t make much sense. Pogba was a brilliant player in a brilliant team for Juventus and France, however he was not the leader of those teams, the player raising the standards and dragging his teammates with him.

He struggled at United because they expected him to fill that role, when it was really Bruno Fernandes who did it in January 2020. Pogba was also signed without a clear plan for the job. ‘utilize. He thrived in three-man midfield systems before returning to United, but was rarely given the platform here that he got in Turin and still gets with France.

There is also a strong argument that the slower pace of Serie A and international football suits Pogba’s game. He likes to take a touch or two before choosing a pass, which is often denied to him in the speed and physicality of the Premier League.

He was magnificent at the European Championship last summer because he would have had time on the ball to push it forward waiting for the pass to appear. In the Premier League, this approach has led to accusations of being too flippant when in reality he struggles to adapt his game.

Both the club and the player deserve some criticism for a union that has seemed doomed for at least four years. When Pogba goes free for the second time this summer, he should serve as a warning sign to a recruiting service being overhauled.

Director of Football John Murtough is now in charge of leading recruitment, with Erik ten Hag having veto power over potential targets. Between them they must avoid mistakes like Pogba, expensive players ill-equipped to fit into a style and system United want to play.

Ten Hag’s appointment is a fresh start this summer and Pogba’s departure should also signal a change in transfer strategy. It was a costly mistake, but one that should never be repeated.

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