Whilst John Bains’ blog doesn’t break it down in terms as crude as this, the title says it all and this was the overlying feeling most had.
Pogba is apparently stalling on signing a new contract due to lack of first team chances, something that perplexed many fans.
We’ve all seen Pogba in some capacity, be it the outstanding highlights you can now find of him on YouTube, live in the flesh, the cameos he has made for the first team or at reserve level on MUTV. It is undeniable he is capable of brilliance, we have all seen it but on Wednesday we and he got a sharp reminder of footballing reality.
The game has changed.
In this day and age players are expected to be fully fledged stars by 18/19, it is the reason people were writing off Nani a few seasons ago. Players are no longer afforded time to develop properly because of the emergence of young prodigies who against the odds are able hold their own when thrown into the deep end.
It is then expected that all talented youngsters should be able to do so, completely ignoring the fact that people let a lone players develop at different rates.
There was an expectation that Pogba would be the player to solve our midfield problems. He clearly has the ability, but truth be told in his first team cameos this season he hasn’t displayed this.
Firstly let me say this isn’t a knock on Pogba, it is quite unrealistic to expect an 18 year old to step into central midfield and become some sort of general. It is often stated that the position is one of the hardest positions to play so to thrust all of our hopes onto him is being quite unfair.
I agree with Sir Alex’s tactic of gently easing him into the team, it allows him to become familiar with not only team mates but also the routine. Having him train with the first team, including him in match day squads and travelling parties even if he doesn’t make it into the starting XI or onto the bench serves a purpose (even if it does act as a teaser to us as fans!) and if he does remain with us it will benefit him in the long term.
Now let me explain what I meant when I said he hasn’t given us a true indication of his ability. Against Leeds and Palace he didn’t look like the Pogba that I have seen previously. I don’t mean in terms of him playing inch perfect Hollywood passes or rifling them in from 30 yards. It is more in terms of his mentality.
When discussing Pogba I often state that sometimes he can be quite relaxed especially when he knows he is better than his opposition. I remember specifically against West Ham in the FAYC last season seeing this. He has a confidence in himself that is evident but both of his run outs for the first team have been tinged with anxiety and nervousness.
I won’t be the only person that laughed at the commentator that foolishly derided his shooting ability against Leeds, we all know he can belt them in but nerves got the better of him and the same can be said for against Palace too.
He wasn’t poor in either game by any stretch of the imagination but at the same time you can see that he is still adapting to playing in the first team.
Some people find it easier than others to step into the first team, Ravel for instance doesn’t seem to be suffering from the same problems as Paul and for me has shown a maturity in his play, including against Palace.
Pogba is just 18, he isn’t going to walk into the midfield and be solve all of our problems but you can see the making of a brilliant player taking place and in a few years I wouldn’t bet against him being a quality player in midfield for us (if he signs a new deal of course).
If Pogba does want to leave because he feels he isn’t getting the first team chances he deserves at United, then perhaps the game against Palace will have opened his eyes a little as to why. The step up isn’t easy and not to say he can’t do it but it isn’t something that happens overnight.
The game against Palace will have opened some of our eyes too, a wonderkid yes but essentially still a kid. There is no rush when it comes to him, Sir Alex has been turning youth team players into first team players since his days at St. Mirren.
If and when he is ready a player as talented as he won’t be held back.