Analysing Paul Pogba's performance in Manchester United's defeat to Manchester City
The most expensive football of all time was starting his biggest match so far for Manchester United, against close rivals Manchester City. High hopes had turned into decent if not overwhelming performances since his return to Old Trafford, but many were hoping that Paul Pogba would put in his best performance so far in the Saturday lunch-time kick-off. Pogba had never lost a derby while at Juventus, and that kind of winning mentality would be vital going into this massive fixture. It was however, another disappointing day for the 23-year-old, as City won the match 2-1 and Pogba was rather quiet throughout the match.
For the first half, United were over-run by City’s quick, elegant football. For Kevin De Bruyne’s goal to put the Citizens in-front, a long ball was flicked-on, and De Bruyne touched it past Daley Blind to go one-on-one. On closer inspection, Pogba had left the run of De Bruyne and didn’t track back. The Frenchman disappointingly stood still, as the Belgian international ran through to put his team one-up. This theme carried on throughout the first-half, with Pogba seen on many occasions stood on the edge of his own box, not really knowing whether to close down or stand-off, and just looking a bit uncomfortable.
He showed promise in the second half, his powerful runs often difficult to stop, on many occasions taking the ball away from two or three players at a time and running powerfully into space. This being his strength, it was unfortunate he couldn’t do it more, and control the game. Potentially, the record-signing could be better further up the field, as a move to a more attacking position offered a better Pogba than the one in the first half. Potentially also, a more defensive minded midfielder, other than Marouane Fellaini could be an option in the bigger games. His overall play including closing players down improved in the second half when he was pushed further forward.
It is clear that Pogba offers much to be desired. His skills and powerful running could cause damage to any team, but it struggled to show in this game. City were too good in the first-half, and in the second half he just couldn’t show it enough. He has plenty of time to adjust however, and if United are going to win the title, it will probably be because he has adjusted and proven he can dominate big Premier League matches.
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