Towards the end of last season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared that not only would he be successful as Manchester United manager, but also that there were several players who would not be a part of the journey ahead. As of August 1st, eight days until the Premier League kicks off, United have not sold a single player.
The stagnant outgoings are a worry for the upcoming season, as there are players within the team that clearly don’t want to be there, and others who undoubtedly shouldn’t be anywhere near the team.
One player who certainly doesn’t want to be at the club is Paul Pogba, United’s best outfield player. Pogba has been flirting with the idea of leaving Old Trafford for over a year now, and his agent has publicly stated his desire to depart this summer, with Real Madrid circling.
However, he is now being touted for club captaincy next season.
You get the sense that Pogba is a big character at the club, one that has a lot of influence on the players – particularly the younger lads. Is it really a sensible idea to keep a player who clearly believes he is bigger than Manchester United?
Of course, Pogba is a superstar. There’s no doubt he is one of the best midfielder’s in the world. The question is, what does it say about United that they are reluctant to sell a player who has shown disrespect to the club? What stops other players from following in Pogba’s footsteps and publicly kicking up a fuss when things aren’t going their way? Most importantly, what does it say about a manager who seems to have lost control of a player yet wants him to become captain?
The Pogba situation echoes that of David Beckham’s in 2003. In Sir Alex Ferguson’s Autobiography, the Scot wrote about how Beckham’s work rate had dropped as he ‘flirted’ with the prospect of a move to Madrid, and that he often pursued fame outside of football.
“David was the only player I managed who chose to be famous, who made it mission to be known outside the game,” wrote Ferguson.
“I told the board David had to go. The minute a Man United player thought he was bigger than the manager, he had to go. David thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson. You cannot have a player taking over the dressing room. That was the death knell for him.”
United fans are desperate for Pogba to succeed at the club, unfortunately, it seems to more of an extent than the player himself.
So what should be done with the Frenchman? Real Madrid seem reluctant to spend the £130-150m reportedly needed to sign him, meaning he is likely to stay next season.
You could argue that this would spell disaster, but Pogba doesn’t come across as the type to cause a stir in the dressing room – similar to how Roy Keane might have back in the day. He’s had a solid pre-season, and Ole has publicly praised his work ethic. He walks into almost every team in the world’s starting XI, and his class is undeniable. But how damaging will his actions prove to be for the future of Manchester United, long after he has left the club?
Despite all the negativity, let’s hope Pogba makes a real statement next season and shows his willingness to play for the badge. After all, he is one of our own.