What can we take from Paul Pogba's second Manchester United debut?
It is fair to say that when one of the biggest clubs in the world breaks their transfer record to sign you, there’s quite a lot of pressure on your shoulders as you step out for your debut, but Paul Pogba didn’t let that show at all.
With the most touches, most key passes, most shots, most dribbles and most interceptions, Pogba was at the heart of everything that the Red Devils did. Playing in something of a free role, Pogba dominated the Saints midfield for most of the game, weaving in and out of the likes of Jordy Clasie with ease.
The Frenchman impressed, and Jose Mourinho admitted that the club will take time to make the most of his talents as they have to find a way to allow him to play in a way which gives him the freedom to express himself whilst remaining defensively responsible.
I don’t know what position he played, we have to build a certain organisation around him, but he has to play free.
At times, you could see the pressure on Pogba. Desperate to score, Pogba took speculative efforts from outside the box, only challenging Fraser Forster with one of his four shots, straight into his gloves in a comfortable save for the English goalkeeper.
The midfielder brought flair to United’s midfield, one which had previously been clogged up with players like Daley Blind, who lack the creativity and drive to move forwards and create something out of nothing at a moment’s notice. On last night’s performance, Pogba driving the Red Devils’ midfield forwards will be an exceptionally exciting prospect for fans.
However, it wasn’t all positive. Whilst the media and United fans got excited over a promising debut, it was easy to ignore his second half stats. Losing possession on seven occasions, thirteen passes backwards compared to just six forwards, and three shots, all of which were off target. That said, it would be hard to criticise the number six after he returned to training just last week. He is still adapting to his new team and teammates, and that process will take time.
No-one is free of mistakes, as Pogba made clear, but Jose Mourinho did not seek to punish him, his new boss even turned those mistakes into a positive:
The fact that his first action was bad, he gave away the ball and allowed the opponent to counter-attack. You can see even more the ego and the personality, he is so comfortable in his own style.
His second debut out of the way, the pressure has eased on Pogba but it is by no means gone.
The 23-year-old will now be under pressure to produce superb performances across this season if he is to help lead this United side towards the long awaited title challenge. If last night’s performance and partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic was anything to go by, it could be an exciting campaign for United.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Gri Pijama.
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