In 2016, Manchester United paid Juventus, €105million (£89m) for the transfer of 23 year old Paul Pogba. A then world record transfer, United were convinced they were buying the best young midfielder in the world. His arrival was marked by the appointment of Jose Mourinho as Manager and signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The rebuild was well underway and the Red Devils were on the way back to the very top with superstar Pogba their leading man. Or at least that was the plan!
Today, 6th June 2019, news is that his parasitic agent, Mino Raiola confirmed that Pogba’s intentions are to leave the club and head to either Real Madrid or Juventus. To fans like me who have always disliked Pogba, and believe me there are a ton of those, this hasn’t come as a surprise in the least. Paul Pogba is the poster boy of modern day footballers. Overrated, overpriced, exaggerated on social media and without a shred of loyalty. The only thing he cares about is his own brand, the only values he adheres to are his marketing agency’s and the only people he fools are the millions of gullible teenagers who think their French hero is absolutely “dripping in sauce”. According to a study, Pogba is most marketable athlete out there. No wonder currently he is on a world tour of Adidas as his team is already getting ready for pre-season.
At a time when Manchester United are in the midst of their worst slump in four decades, a player of Pogba’s stature is expected to hold steady and marshal the rebuild as a leader. But the image of Pogba as a captain is a bad joke for those who have observed him from the very beginning of his second stint with Man United.
But let’s go step by step. Pogba is a Manchester United youth academy player who learnt his trade along with Jesse Lingard and Ravel Morrison. He left United in 2013 when Sir Alex refused to play him despite there being a midfield injury crisis. Although SAF admittedly wanted to keep him, his new agent Mino Raiola ensured Pogba got his departure to Juventus. At Juve, Pogba blossomed as he was guided by master midfielder Andrea Pirlo and dynamo Arturo Vidal. Chiellini and Buffon’s leadership at the club also ensured Paul learnt to keep his head down while rising up the ranks at his new club. He benched the veteran Marchisio and quickly became one of the world’s most exciting young footballers. What fueled Pogba’s meteoric rise from the bench at Old Trafford to the high lights of Turin was social media. His skills, spectacular goals and outlandish hairstyles were the perfect ingredients to create brand Pogba.
Considering the clowns running Manchester United at that time (till now), it was a logical decision to try and get him back to Old Trafford. A legitimate superstar signing meant to propel the club both on and off the field. For the longest time, it was understood that Pogba would be heading towards Real Madrid or Barcelona. But as United entered the race, things started getting complicated with the Red Devils breaking the world record to land their man. His announcement was in the form of a music video with Stormzy and a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #PogBack! Fans were enthralled by the star signing and expectations were at an all time high. But that season wasn’t meant to be and Pogba was at best unconvincing.
Arrogant as always, Pogba used to yell at his team-mates who misplaced passes to him. Tracking back has never been his strength but the absolute lack of effort when he didn’t feel like it alienated a section of fans who were used to the likes of Tevez and Rooney. As Zlatan got injured and Mourinho fastened his grip on the club, Pogba had no hiding place either in the dressing room or on the field. Reinforcements were needed and Pogba was supposed to be unlocked. On came his friend Romelu Lukaku at the striker’s end and Nemanja Matic from Chelsea to ease his defensive responsibilities. Big money signings now strolled United’s dressing room and they began the 2017-18 season with a bang. But as the first Manchester Derby approached, it was evident that the title will be in Manchester but the winner will be decided in these Red vs Blue clashes. Dominated once again in a big game, Pogba and co. lost to City and then began a downward spiral that lasted fourteen months before Mourinho was sacked.
Against Sevilla in a Champions League Round of sixteen, Mourinho dropped Pogba for both the legs as rumors of a bust up between the superstar duo started looking increasingly true. But things never settle down with Pogba and as the second Manchester derby approached, City manager Guardiola claimed that Pogba was offered to him by his agent! Incensed, United fans wanted an answer from Pogba who didn’t deny any of the claims. To add to the drama, if United lost the game at the Etihad, City would win the league. As the game began, United went 2-0 down in the first half with City fans already bracing themselves for a sweet victory and league win to be rubbed in the noses of their giant neighbors. Nobody knows what happened in the dressing room at half time, but United came back to win 3-2 in the second half with Pogba scoring two goals and celebrating with a “Shush” in no particular direction. Oh also, did I mention Pogba had colored his hair blue right before the derby and claimed it was for his country? Yea. Blockbuster stuff.
United finished second the in the league that campaign but there was nothing else to show for as Pogba missed a simple header against Chelsea in the FA Cup final on his way to lose competition. A shocking second half of the season behind him, Pogba left his Manchester hell to play for France in the World Cup. The star studded French team wouldn’t be denied and Pogba infact scored in the final to hand the French their second World Cup Trophy. With that win in the kitty, United fans expected Pogba to replicate his commitment and performance levels for the club that paid him to do so. Pogba returned to Carrington and immediately realized that the Mourinho Management Cycle had reached its inevitable last stage of spectacular implosion. A widely publicised training ground bust up followed by reports of the Special One calling Pogba a ‘virus’ infront of everyone destabilized the club even further. Not to mention that United had had their worst League start in 28 years. Yea, that place was on fire.
Thankfully Mourinho was sacked and weirdly enough was replaced by club legend Ole Solskjaer. Oh and incidentally, Pogba’s Twitter handle posted a picture of him looking funnily and asking his followers to “Caption this”just a few minutes after the official announcement. What a legend. Anyway, with Ole at the wheel, the first two months were pure bliss for United fans as Pogba and Co. finally turned up. Spectacular performance after the other followed the climax of the PSG win in the Champions League. Ole was made permanent manager and everyone lived happily ever after! Nah. The players downed their tools once again and Pogba forgot he was a footballer once again. The most telling moment has to be in last season’s second Manchester Derby at Old Trafford when he was out-jumped by the tiny Raheem Sterling for a header!
The season ended with United losing to Cardiff at home and Pogba being abused by fans while leaving the ground. Never a dull moment with this guy. Today, as it stands, Pogba has asked for a “new challenge” elsewhere and his agent has confirmed his future lies not in Manchester. And what have United’s leadership done to prepare for this not so surprising occurrence? Nothing. Currently our leadership is either in denial or playing smart hardball. They know no one can pay their asking price of €150 million so both Real and Juve have to come up with player plus cash deals. It is my opinion that this is actually the best thing that could have happened to United and Pogba had to go after Mourinho. We need a fresh start and a new approach.
Players like Pogba can’t lead you anywhere other than the depths of social media because they’re “luxury players”. He, like Mesut Ozil and James Rodrigues can only perform when the entire team is already well set and just need a little bit of jazz! In that respect, these players are phenomenal. But if you want someone to grab the game by the scruff of its neck, you can wish these lads goodbye. Pogba is not a bad person. He’s just a mercenary. A player perfectly embodying everything wrong with today’s generation of prima donna footballers who want to be rappers more than sportspeople. Manchester United must learn the all important lesson that they once embodied more than any club in the world – No player bigger than the club. Even in the absence of Sir Alex, we as a club must guard our values and not let charlatans like Pogba take control of what we stand for.
On the footballing front, I am not even remotely bothered. A midfield of Bruno Fernandes, Isco (rumored to be offered by Real with cash) and the likes of Fred/ McTominay will be more than capable of taking United to a top four finish. That will act as a base to build an even stronger team that can challenge for the title in the coming years. The past eighteen months have been very hard as a United fan but they were also something that is needed. We now know the kind of players we need and exact kind we need to avoid. Personality cults like Pogba do more damage than good for any club. His legions of fans are quick to brand anyone criticizing him and his adolescent antics as ‘racist’. That’s not a distraction we as a club must take on at any point of time ever again.
Anyway, it was exhausting even writing this. Hope Pogba leaves as soon as possible although I won’t hold my breath. That man and this club are born for drama. This will stretch for a while and my biggest hope is that United don’t make a panic buy as a reaction. Other than that, good riddance! #PogbaOut