Credit to Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal boss has courage. He’s left Mesut Ozil out of his Premier League and Europa League squads this term because, put simply, he can’t trust or coax the best from the Germany international. And that’s eerily similar to the situation Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has with Paul Pogba.
Manchester United, four years after re-signing Pogba from Juventus, are yet to crack the code.
When they forked out £89million on the France international they thought they were signing a midfield general who would propel them back to the top of the Premier League table.
Except that hasn’t happened.
It hasn’t been all bad. Pogba starred as United won the EFL Cup and Europa League under Jose Mourinho in his first campaign in charge, becoming an undroppable asset for the Portuguese.
He was breathtaking during Solskjaer’s run as interim boss, too, shining when Mourinho was put out of his misery following a difficult start to the season.
But, by and large, Pogba has been a disappointment.
Arsenal, for years, have struggled to get consistency from Ozil. He’s not been a flop since signing from Real Madrid in 2013 but he’s not been the hit the Gunners hoped for, either.
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“I just give mine, whether they believe me or agree with me or not, there’s nothing I can do.
“But I have to put my decisions, with my heart and with my brain to make the right decisions that I believe are good.”
And, now, Solskjaer should contemplate a similar change.
Pogba, like Ozil, is a luxury player. One for the YouTube fanatics to gush over. Stepovers, pace, power, he’s capable of the lot. His World Cup winner’s medal certainly backs that up.
But when the going gets tough, he’s nowhere to be seen. Against Arsenal on Sunday he was dire and giving away the penalty capped off a torrid afternoon.
That came after horror shows against Crystal Palace and Tottenham earlier in the season, games where the France international was the worst player on the pitch.
So where do United go from here?
Simply put, they should give up. Cash in when the January transfer window opens, because the money could be used on a defender and, also, the 27-year-old, wants a move away.
He’s insisted playing for Real Madrid is his dream but the Red Devils should entertain offers. Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek have both been superior – and that’s despite the latter failing to start a single Premier League match.
The more Solskjaer perseveres with Pogba, the more he puts his job in jeopardy. With every bad result, the spectre of the available Mauricio Pochettino looms large.
He’s tried everything. He even deployed the Frenchman on the wing for the second half of the Arsenal game, such was his determination to get the best from him.
But the Pogba experiment has failed. He’s not the player United thought he was and, with the doom and gloom mood back at Old Trafford, it’s time to take action.
If not, the wantaway star may just end up outlasting Solskjaer. He should take note of Arsenal and act accordingly.
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