Paul Labile Pogba, joined United in 2016, with this being his second stint at Old Trafford. United’s academy graduate left Old Trafford with the lack of first team appearances under Sir Alex Ferguson back in 2012. But returned as a seasoned midfielder who was known to destroy oppositions single handedly. Hence, becoming the then most expensive footballer in the planet on his comeback to United. Today on Tactical Masterclass, we cover our French midfielder, Paul Pogba.
Pogba’s footballing journey started at the age of six at US Roissy-en-Brie, a club few miles away from his hometown. He was a part of the club for seven years before joining US Torcy. At the club, Pogba captained their under-13 team.
At the age of 14, having spent a year at Torcy, Paul joined professional club, Le Havre. During his time at the club, Pogba went on to captain their under-16 team to the final phase of their domestic league. Moreover, Pogba established himself as a great future prospect at the club and also represented his country in the youth teams.
After several months of ownership transfer issues between the clubs, Paul Pogba arrived at Manchester United in October 2009. He had a great start to his career at Old Trafford, having made 21 appearances and scored 7 goals for the under-18 team in his first season. Continuing to impress the club and manager, Pogba was promoted to the reserve team the next year. As a result, he continued to show great signs in the reserve teams as well, scoring goals and providing assists at will.
During February 2011, Pogba was among the 4 players to be promoted to the first team squad for the FA Cup tie against Crawley Town. However, Paul failed to make his debut during that match. And continued to impress at the under-18 team for the reminder of the season.
This season saw more positive signs for Pogba as Sir Alex Ferguson announced that he would give more first team opportunities to Paul. During the 2011-12 season, Pogba was promoted to the reserve team permanently. Throughout the season, Pogba played 19 matches in the Premier Reserve League, of which he scored 3 goals and provided 7 assists.
The Frenchman made his first team debut after being named in the squad to face Leeds United in the Football League Cup. He came in as a half-time substitute in a 3-0 win for United. Similarly, Pogba managed to make his Premier League debut 3 months after making his club debut. It came against Stoke City, in which Pogba came in as a substitute in the 72nd minute. But the midfielder failed to cement a first team berth that season, having made only 5 appearances across all competitions.
In August 2012, Paul Pogba joined Juventus after signing a four-year contract with the club. The midfielder moved away from United as he didn’t get much first team appearances. But, at Juventus, Pogba was straight away a part of the first team. He made his club debut in a pre-season friendly against Benfica. Likewise, his competitive debut came in the Serie A match against Chievo, in which he played the whole 90 minutes. In addition, Pogba made his first UEFA Champions League appearance in a 1-1 home draw against Shakhtar Donetsk. His first goal for the club came in 2-0 win over Napoli.
Further, Pogba continued to make valuable first team appearances and was already making match winning contributions at Juventus. During the 2012-13 season, Pogba managed to make 35 appearances for Juve across all competitions, racking up 5 goals as well. By the end of the season, Pogba was awarded the Golden Boy award for 2013, for the best young player in Europe.
The next two seasons saw Pogba emerge as one of the best midfielders in the world. During the start of the 2014-15 season, he was named by The Guardian as one of the most promising young players in Europe. By the end of the season, Pogba managed to be a first team regular and was the player with the most number of appearances for the club across all competitions. In addition, Paul also won his second league title with Juventus under manager Antonio Conte.
Pogba’s stats during the 2014-15 season are as follows :
- Matches : 51
- Minutes Played : 4178 minutes
- Goals : 9
- Assists : 6
- Successful Pass % : 84%
Pogba’s last season was a trophy laden season, with him winning several individual honours. He continued to be an integral part of Juventus’s midfield and helped them win the league that season. Pogba made 43 appearances for Juve that season, with 9 goals and 14 assists across all competitions.
Return to United
On August 2016, Pogba returned to United on a five-year contract. The reported transfer fee was £105 million, which made him the then costliest footballer surpassing Gareth Bale.
Pogba’s first appearance for the club since his return came in a 2-0 win over Southampton in the Premier League. However, he couldn’t manage to bring his form from Juventus to United and had a patchy first season after arrival. He scored a crucial goal in the UEFA Europa League final against AFC Ajax and ended up beating them 2-0 to win a continental trophy after 9 years. During the 2016-17 season, Pogba made 45 appearances for United in all competitions. Scoring 8 goals and providing 5 assists.
The midfielder continued in the same form as last season and faced criticism fairly regularly for not being desciplined. During the initial months of the season, Pogba was out injured for two months with a torn left hamstring. He managed to show great signs on his return from injury, but again his form deteriorated paving way for more criticism. Manchester United finished the season just behind neighborhood rivals Manchester City. With Pogba making 27 appearances, with 6 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League.
The 2018-19 season saw Pogba start off with some good performances under manager Jose Mourinho. However, after a string of good performances, Pogba’s performance again deteriorated. His bad form continued which forced the manager to bench him for majority of the matches. During the season, Mourinho was sacked and was replaced by caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Under the new manager, Pogba found his lost form and came up with a string of great performances for United. As a result, the season ended with Pogba having the most productive season in his United career. He made 44 appearances across all competitions, with 15 goals and 10 assists.
Pogba had a injury hit 19/20 season, after missing majority of the matches with a prolonged foot injury. However, the Frenchman started the season very well by providing 2 assists in Match Day 1 of the Premier League. But couldn’t continue with his good start after getting an ankle injury and being out for several months. He returned from injury in December, playing the Boxing Day match against Newcastle United. But he still had a troubled ankle which required a surgery, which meant Pogba would again miss 2-3 months of football. Manchester United are currently 5th in the league with 9 more games to be played.
Style of Play
Paul Pogba is a very strong and skilful playmaker. As a result, he commands the midfield from defence to attack and can drop deep to help out the defence or make his way forward to help out in attack. More importantly, he has great vision and has the ability to provide exquisite through balls as well. He also has great finishing and he doesn’t shy away from a long shot. In addition, he has great feet and can dribble past defenders.
Paul Pogba is undoubtedly one of the worlds best midfielders. On the other hand, it is natural to have competitions from players of the same position from a different team. Let us look at some of Pogba’s toughest competitions in the Premier League
Paul Pogba vs Kevin de Bruyne
- Tackles : 1.6 – 1.2
- Key Passes : 1.9 – 3.6
- Average Passes : 67.1 – 54
- Successful Pass% : 83.2 – 81.2
- Shots per game : 1.9 – 2.7
Paul Pogba vs Georginio Wijnaldum
- Tackles : 1.6 – 1
- Key Passes : 1.9 – 0.5
- Average Passes : 67.1 – 42.1
- Successful Pass% : 83.2 – 90.9
- Shots per game : 1.9 – 1.1
Paul Pogba vs James Maddison
- Tackles : 1.6 – 2.0
- Key Passes : 1.9 – 2.6
- Average Passes : 67.1 – 48.4
- Successful Pass% : 83.2 – 83.0
- Shots per game : 1.9 – 2.2
To sum up, Paul Pogba might not have had a great 19/20 season, but there is not doubt about the Frenchman’s quality. Similarly, on his day, he can single handedly win us matches and he has proved it several times in the past. With Bruno Fernandes joining United, there is only positive signs going forward for the club. Certainly, the midfield duo consisting of Pogba and Bruno is capable of demolishing any defence.
Do you think we should keep Pogba? If not, who do you look to replace him with? Do let us know your thoughts.
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