The focus was once again on Paul Pogba after Manchester United’s defeat to Feyenoord in the Europa League.
The former Juventus man isn’t living up to the tag of the World’s most expensive player. In the four matches that he has played for United since his return he has failed to register a shot on target let alone score a goal. That’s not what you want when forking out £89m for the privilege of his signature.
Thursday saw United revert to a 4-3-3 formation and one that arguably is set up to get the best out of Pogba but again his input was less than expected. The caveat could be that it wasn’t a full strength United side but even so you would have expect more from the French international.
It’s quite apparent that the weight of that price tag is weighing down Pogba and his manager Jose Mourinho has told him to forget about the transfer fee and focus to returning to the kind of form that led to a summer long transfer saga to capture the 23 year old.
If you look at his stats since his return to Old Trafford then it does make for stark reading but could you argue that he is not being deployed in his best position as he currently sits as part of a defensive midfield duo alongside Marouane Felliani.
With Fellaini being given more license than Pogba to go forward, especially so that his aerial prowess can be utilised it means that Pogba is being tasked with providing the screen in front of United’s back four. A job that he didn’t do all that well in the Manchester derby when City ran out convincing winners even if the 2-1 scoreline suggests a tight game.
In Europa League action Pogba was moved further forward as Ander Herrera and Morgan Schniederlein sat in front of the back four but again his input was minimal. That said it would be unfair just to bring Pogba into criticism that night as it was an off night across the board for the star studded United team.
If Pogba was placed further up the park in Premier League action then you would see more of an attacking presence but there is one man who stands in his way and that is none other than Wayne Rooney. With Rooney seemingly undroppable then the former Everton man has the place behind the striker very much sown up.
That means that Pogba is almost being slotted into defensive midfield because that’s the only place that Jose Mourinho can accommodate him. At the moment Pogba is like the expensive sportscar that is only ever kept in the garage and never taken out for a spin.
There’s absolutely no question in regards to the talents that Pogba has but the current position that he is being deployed in is not allowing him to show off those attributes and in turn be a positive influence on the team. It’s not to say he has played badly but he hasn’t done anything of note either.
Certainly the weight of expectation that comes with a world record transfer fee doesn’t help. Pogba’s performances are going to be further under the microscope as people will expect more from him in each game that he plays. With a price tag of that magnitude it’s almost as if he is being set up to fail.
United are without question better with Pogba in the team especially compared to last season when they were under the reign of Louis Van Gaal. The task now for Jose Mourinho is to work out how to build a side that will get the best out of him and allow the world’s most expensive footballer to really shine.