Paul Pogba believes something must change at Manchester United and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer agrees, with the midfielder leaving the club potentially part of it
Paul Pogba’s own admission has signalled that his time is up at Manchester United.
The midfielder was critical of the Red Devils following their 4-2 defeat to Leicester City on Saturday, as was manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The pair’s cutting comments highlighted that the United dressing room are well aware of a need for change.
Solskjaer, although under immense pressure from the fan base to turn things around at Old Trafford, appears to be safe for now, having signed a new three-year contract in the summer.
But Pogba is on the opposite end of the spectrum, with just eight months remaining on his deal, and agent Mino Raiola has reportedly sounded out potential suitors such as Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.
You would be hard-pressed to find a Red Devils supporter who believes both manager and player will be at the club come June 2022 and one seems far more likely to leave than the other.
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Pogba thrived in his side’s opening four Premier League games, registering a stunning seven assists – but that was from the left wing, a role that allowed him more freedom.
And much has been made of Solskjaer’s conundrum, with Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Cristiano Ronaldo all able to operate there.
But put the playmaker in a midfield double pivot and his output significantly drops, hence the issue Solskjaer has while Pogba remains at the club.
Post-match at the King Power Stadium, the France international – fresh from being overran by Leicester as he won just four of his 15 duels – lamented to BBC Sport : “To be honest we have been having this kind of game for a long time and we have not found what the problem is.
“We have conceded easy goals and stupid goals.
“In these sort of games on this sort of pitch, they will push and put pressure on us.
“We need to be more mature I think, and play with more experience – we need to have more arrogance, in a good way.
“We have to take the ball and play our football, but now we have to find what is the key and reason for this loss, because we deserved to lose today.”
Solskjaer, albeit in more overarching terms, was in agreement with his No.6, who has looked a far cry from his early-season self in recent games, having been moved back into central midfield.
“Over the international break, we have had a good look to see what has gone wrong lately,” the United boss explained.
“But we need to look at the whole set-up and balance of the team and maybe something has to give.
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“Lately, we have not been in great form, we’ve lost too many points and that is something we have to look at.
“We might have to change. Do we need more legs in there? What do we need?”
“More legs” could well be a hint towards Solskjaer’s preferred midfield pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred, who allow star Bruno Fernandes to shine due to their graft and discipline.
That is often in contrast to Nemanja Matic and Pogba’s performances as a pivot, despite the duo boasting the more glamorous CVs.
Former club captain Gary Neville hinted that Solskjaer’s attempts of shoehorning in attack-minded players like the Frenchman is a reason behind the Red Devils’ struggles.
Speaking on Sky Sports , he said: “We’ve seen the team that’s been picked today with Greenwood, Sancho, Ronaldo, Pogba and Fernandes in, five of them, I wouldn’t want to be a defender in that team.
“I love them as players but having them all in the same team, not enough workhorses.
“There’s a reason Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Tom Cleverley, players like that over the years got a game, Ji-Sung Park, Owen Hargreaves, got games alongside the great players because you need workhorses alongside them.
“Manchester United at this moment in time are imbalanced and the performances are now getting what they deserve in terms of results and it needs to change.”
So, given that none of Greenwood, Sancho, Fernandes or Ronaldo are likely to pack their bags any time soon – or be happy on the bench – and the need for more “workhorses,” it appears Pogba is the odd piece.
United fans would have hoped for more from both the individual and team since the 28-year-old’s return in 2016, costing the club £89million.
But for all his infrequent brilliance, it would be hard to blame Solskjaer if he decided to given Pogba and ultimatum on his still-undecided future: commit or go.
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