When it comes to Pogba, everyone has an opinion. Whether you are in Old Trafford, Spain or China, no other player generates as much emotion on both ends of the spectrum as Paul Pogba. The cliche applies – hated, adored, but never ignored. At least Pogba makes sure of that through his off-the-cuff remarks about “finding new challenges” every now and then, or through his massive social media following or when times are frustrating, through his mouthpiece Raiola – Voldemort du futbol.
Much has been written about Pogba and his second innings at United. In fact, Alex wrote a fantastic piece – “Is Paul Pogba Worth the Hassle” last month highlighting the on-again, off-again relationship between United and Pogba (sigh!) and also talks about the current transfer drama and if Sir Alex was right in letting him move to Juventus. Check it out!
Without him, We’ll be OK
I want to focus on some other aspects around Pogba, purely from a fan’s perspective. I know fans largely want Pogba to stay (check out Alex’s post for a fan poll on this topic) and I for one keep swinging from “Pogba In” to “Pogba Out.” Lately though, it’s been more of “Pogba Out” – not because I have some grudge against the dude, but more so because I feel at this stage it would be good for both Pogba and United to part ways. To this, fellow fans will say that Pogba is world-class and letting him go will be fatal. To those friends, I say – we’ll be fine. I say this because of two reasons.
First. Pogba is world-class when the team around him is also world-class. Case in point – the French national team. My belief is that talent is only part of the equation. The other part of the equation are discipline, effort and heart. Without the latter and without consistency, players don’t turn into legends. For me it was heartbreaking to see Pogba turn up as his “world-class” best in one game and be anonymous the next. I don’t think those are qualities of a world-class player, as pundits claim he is. Having said that, I have no doubt that he CAN be a legend of the sport if he keeps his head down.
Second reason why I think we’ll be fine – Ole is building with a vision. That vision consists of players that are hungry, young and are willing to die on the pitch chasing the ball. You can see that hunger in McSauce, Fred (who has pulled off nothing short of a Jon Snow and emerged as ferocious as ever,) and now you can see it in Bruno. There is a hunger and passion that is contagious and forces others to put in the work. Also, if history is any proof, we were fine after Sir Alex let Beckham leave because “no one is bigger than the club.”
The dude’s got a point
Now, to be fair, if you put yourself in Pogba’s shoes you would understand why a recent World Cup winner with multiple Serie A titles would want away from a club trying to rise from the ashes. He is youngish, he is wanted, and he wants to add to his medal tally. Understandable. But there can be better ways to make the case for a transfer than what we’ve gotten so used to.
Bruno Bruno Bruno
So then, is Bruno the answer? Is he going to be what Pogba only showed glimpses every now and then?
To answer that, let’s look at some stats.
In the 2019/20 season, Pogba and Bruno both played 5 PL games in which Bruno scored twice and had 3 assists. Pogba had 2 assists before getting injured and out for the remainder of the season. This is not really a fair comparison because when Pogba played the team were struggling but immediately after Bruno arrived, we won several on the trot. Oh wait – is that a coincidence?! Or did Bruno prove to be “world-class” already in uplifting the entire team? Time will tell. But if we look at Bruno’s time at United so far with Pogba’s 2018/19 season, which was arguably one of his best in a United shirt, Bruno has more shots per goal (3.8 vs 3 for Pogba) and has more assists per game (0.6 vs 0.4 for Pogba.) Goals per game remain equal. Again, not quite a fair comparison because by the time Bruno plays one full season for United, his stats may go down. It certainly looks promising.
It’s all about Heart
Beyond the stats, though, what really makes a difference for us fans is the commitment to the badge, the infectious attitude and a love for the club that goes beyond the massive paychecks. Bruno has, without a shadow of doubt, showed all those qualities. Pogba has shown them, on and off. He’s a nice guy and teammates like him clearly. I just hope we finally get the Pogba that was promised to us. The same magic on-field but with a lot more heart and a lot less Raiola.
But if not, we’ll just be fine. Ole’s at the wheel.
– Your Logical United