football

Man Utd misfortune could end up benefitting Paul Pogba with Liverpool tactical switch


Bruno Fernandes’ potential absence could see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hand Paul Pogba a starting berth in a more advanced role for Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool

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Man Utd 3 – 2 Atalanta: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer post-match press conference

Ahead of what is being billed as their biggest game of the season, Manchester United could be about to solve conundrum with Paul Pogba – at least temporarily.

The question of where to play the Frenchman has been a long-running issue for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who dropped him for the Red Devils’ 3-2 victory over Atalanta in the Champions League.

But in a boost for Pogba’s wish to play as the most advanced central midfielder, Solskjaer confirmed that star Bruno Fernandes is a doubt for the match against Liverpool on Sunday.

The 28-year-old has certainly not hid his desire to play a more attacking role for club and country but has often been deployed either as an auxiliary wide midfielder in a deeper role.








Solskjaer could deploy Pogba in advanced role against Liverpool
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)



As far back as 2016 when he returned to Old Trafford after four trophy-laden years with Juventus, Pogba said: “I try to adapt [to playing a holding role under Jose Mourinho].

“I am a player who would rather go forward. The coach gave me instructions, I try to follow them.

“I have to retrieve balls and make defensive efforts. It cost me a bit to play differently, much like [ex-team-mate Andrea] Pirlo.

“I have to play, be there to recover and play more for the team.”

Fast forward to this past July and in an interview with Patrick Vieira for L’Equipe, Pogba told the Arsenal legend: “It’s true that at Juve it was different from Manchester United.








Fernandes’ absence could see Pogba shine
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Image:

REUTERS)



“We were already playing with three midfielders [at Juventus], in 5-3-2.

“I had the freedom, I had to be in the box, to attack. It was an obligation.

“In Manchester, I have the freedom to go into the box, but the priority is to play and defend.”

The World Cup winner’s emergence as a left-winger last season proved successful for both player and manager as Fred and Scott McTominay held things down in midfielder – but less so this term.

What is Pogba’s best position? Give us your verdict here.





United’s abundance of attacking talent, particularly out wide, has made it difficult for Solskjaer to keep his forward-thinking men happy.

But if Fernandes were to miss Sunday’s encounter, Pogba playing as the No.10 could allow two wingers to start, likely Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.

The pair come into the game with three goals between them in their last two games, while Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial – who recently returned to training – are also options.




On top of that, Cristiano Ronaldo took up a wider role when Edinson Cavani was introduced against Atalanta, when Pogba partnered Fred in the second half.

Fernandes’ absence may also be the only way the France international starts the match, with his display in a deeper role against Leicester City last Saturday alongside Nemanja Matic a concerning one.

So, despite the Portuguese being a big miss on paper for United, it may well allow Pogba to shine.


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