Despite the fact that Paul Pogba has clearly been one of the Premier League’s standout performers this season, Graeme Souness is still trying to claim that the France international doesn’t even have a basic understanding of the game.
Speaking after Manchester United’s Europa League win last season (in which Paul Pogba scored the opening goal) the Scottish commentator refused to accept that the 24-year-old was even capable of ‘doing brilliant things’ before going on to say that Pogba doesn’t have a proper understanding of the game.
‘He does eye-catching stuff which, with all due respect to the people who maybe don’t understand the game so well, you go ‘wow, wasn’t that great play?’ – a nutmeg, a flick around the corner.
But what I see as a midfield player, an old midfield player, is someone that’s not really got a great understanding of the game.’
Pogba admittedly didn’t set Old Trafford alight last season given the fact that he had arrived with such a mindbending pricetag on his shoulders. However, the former Juventus star did chip in with 9 goals and 6 assists from midfield which was far from a dismal return and, already this season, Pogba is looking well worth the sum that United forked out for him in the summer of 2016.
In 12 appearances this season, the France international has already been involved in nine goals, scoring three and providing six assists. However, the real significance of Pogba’s contribution can be seen in the Red Devils form with and without the 24-year-old.
In eight Premier League games with Pogba in their line-up this season, United have won on seven occasions, drawing just once and scoring 24 goals in the process. Without their midfield star, United have won just four out of seven games, drawing once and losing twice.
With Pogba in their starting lineup, United score an average of 3 goals per game. Without him, they score 1.57 goals per game.
Speaking after United’s 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night, after Paul Pogba provided an exquisite assist to pull Mourinho’s side level, Graeme Souness again attacked the young midfielder, bizarrely stating that he’d never seen Pogba making a difference in a big game.
“He’s 24 years old. If he’s not got it now when is he going to get it? When you buy someone for one hundred million they have to make the difference in a big game, he hasn’t done that… He hasn’t got a basic understanding of the position.”
Playing against an Arsenal side that hadn’t lost at the Emirates since January on Saturday evening, Pogba provided two assists, the second of which he put on a plate for Jesse Lingard to tap in after a surging break up the pitch during a period of total dominance from the Gunners. Maybe that’s not making a difference in a big game or, maybe Souness just wasn’t watching.
On Tuesday night, Mourinho’s men were down by a goal and struggling to find a breakthrough when, picking up the ball in a rather innocuous position, Pogba pinged a perfectly weighted ball over the defence for Lukaku to finish with one touch.
Opinions are all well and good, but stubbornly refusing to acknowledge what is happening in front of your face is something else entirely.