In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Robert Pires stated his thoughts on compatriot Paul Pogba. The former Arsenal man said: “I know Paul, I am very confident for him, but I think Man Utd is a good choice for him and if you work with Jose Mourinho you can learn a lot,”.
It’s clear that Pires feels Pogba will benefit from Jose Mourinho’s management style, although, the former Premier League star did recognise that the United man’s first season hadn’t gone too well, saying: “The first season is very difficult, it is like a transition for him as he used to play for Juventus in Italy and so everything is different. You cannot compare France, Italy, Spain, Germany, UK, they are not the same.”
Indeed, Pires is right. Often players coming into the Premier League struggle initially and Pogba has not performed as well as expected. Is he to blame? Is Mourinho at fault? Or is it just simply a period of adaptation?
Having begun his career with the Red Devils, many would have assumed that the Frenchman would’ve known what to expect upon his return. However, a big part of his professional development was spent in Italy, where the pace is slower, the football is less physical and he had more freedom tactically.
In a Juventus side that won Scudetto after Scudetto while he was there, Pogba was able to roam around in a left central midfield role with Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio providing cover. Massimiliano Allegri noticed that Pogba was most effective with freedom, so what has changed under Jose Mourinho?
Pires claimed Mourinho is the man to take Pogba to the top and though he may be right, he’ll have to find a way to get the best out of him.
In a league where anyone can beat anyone, much more so than in Serie A, Mourinho has opted for the 4-2-3-1 formation that has served him so well during his illustrious managerial career.
Initially, this restrained Pogba, who was partnered next to the rigid Marouane Fellaini, as he wasn’t able to move around and influence like he did in Italy.
In his first four appearances, Pogba only produced four goal-scoring opportunities, creating nothing in the defeat to Watford. Mourinho then replaced Fellaini with Ander Herrera, which had an immediate effect.
Pogba created seven key chances in just two games next to Herrera, and the defensive position that the Spaniard has instinctively allowed Pogba to roam and create.
Pogba has gone on to create 50 opportunities for his side, more than any of his teammates, and Mourinho’s proactiveness at the start of the season has allowed him to build the foundations of his United career.
From the way Mourinho speaks of Pogba, as seen in this press conference, and the Portuguese manager’s focus on getting the best out of the Frenchman suggests Pires was right, Mourinho is the perfect fit for Pogba. But, only time will tell as to whether Mourinho can start getting the best out of his £89million-man on a consistent basis.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Christine Sanjaya.