Three Things That Paul Pogba Will Bring To Manchester United
Paul Pogba’s return to Manchester United has been a protracted affair, but finally seems to be inching towards a successful conclusion. Opinion is likely to be divided about whether the £100 million (or thereabouts) purchase constitutes good value for a player who is yet to reach his peak.
Some have labelled the move a ‘gamble’, which seems a bit hyperbolic both on a footballing and financial level. United are on track to become the first club to pull in £500 million in annual revenue, and Pogba’s transfer fee is likely to be paid in a series of installments over the length of his first contract. Typically, this is four to five years long, so a £20-25 million outlay per annum, plus wages, is eminently feasible.
At the age of 23, he should have scope to develop further and, believe or not, with no sign that football’s inflation is likely to stop there is chance United could even sell him on for a profit.
We analysed the three attributes Jose Mourinho will be looking to Pogba to provide.
Speed In Attacking Transitions
Purportedly, Mourinho was one of the first managers to place heavy emphasis on the importance of ‘transitions’, or at least one of the first to use a word which has become a part of footballing vernacular. In simple terms, transitions are the first few seconds after the ball is lost or after the ball is recovered.
Paul Pogba has the athleticism to make a major impact in both phases, as many pundits have criticised recent United vintages for lacking power, pace and counter-attacking potency. United’s midfield has a static look to it; Michael Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini. Most are tidy passers of a ball, but players who control games for you rather than win them.
Mourinho wants players who can burst forward quickly when the ball is won, both with and without the ball, making his teams extremely dangerous on the counter. Pogba can run away from opponents which is a threat United have lacked from midfield areas. The opposition are at their most vulnerable in the seconds after losing possession and Pogba has the directness to capitalise.
Goals From Outside Of The Box
Shooting from range was not something former manager Louis Van Gaal encouraged, and United typically liked to work the ball into wide areas and look for openings. In his previous spell at Chelsea, Mourinho favoured a similar approach with the likes of Oscar, Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Willian orchestrating quick combinations around the edge of the penalty area (goals like this and this are good examples).
Fourteen of Pogba’s 28 Serie A goals for Juventus came from outside the area; suggesting he might not be a great goal-scorer, but rather a scorer of great goals.
United’s attack was too predictable last term. They failed to score in the first half a staggering 25 times in all competitions last season. It was always said of Sir Alex Ferguson’s United that they had ‘goals from everywhere’ and the Red devils need a greater diversity of attacking threats this coming year.
Pogba’s shooting from distance will provide a weapon in United’s arsenal that has been absent since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. United will face packed, deep lying defences in most of their games this season and shots from distance can be one way of breaking down such opponents.
The notion that United have lost their ‘fear factor’ in the post Ferguson era has become something of a cliché, but there are very real consequences that come with this loss of aura. Players of Pogba’s ability and stature are not only a threat in and of themselves, they create opportunities for others because of the attention they attract. Opponents will be aware of Pogba’s strength and dribbling ability and will therefore drop off a few yards and adopt a more conservative starting position. This should give United’s midfield an extra second on the ball to wrestle control of matches.
In the season after Ferguson’s departure, Newcastle United won at Old Trafford for the first time in 41 years, Everton for the first time in 21 and West Brom for the first time in 35. Pogba’s arrival should mean opponents turn up at Old Trafford on the back foot right from the start, rather than hopeful they can spring an upset.
Featured image: All rights reserved by halley37
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