Does Paul Pogba’s price tag weigh him down? Has he lived up to expectations so far? This week the Red Thoughts team look to the left, look to the right and talk about the Pog-ching Pog-ching.
Think about it as a written podcast, a fans’ forum, a place to debate and discuss. Feel free to join in the discussion in the comments below.
REX: I’ve seen a lot of people criticizing Pogba and putting the price tag in there as part of the criticism. It started off with other teams’ fans (bitterness and banter) but now I’ve seen it trickling its way into United fans’ coversations. He didn’t quote his own price, Juventus did. And we paid it. Nowhere did Pogba say he’s worth £89 million. So it’s one thing when opposite fans quote the price but when United fans start doing it as well, it really bothers me. Other than Messi and Ronaldo, no player could ever really justify such a high purchase price.
BETS: The psychology of it is interesting, isn’t it? It’s almost as if because of the price tag I’m expecting miracles from him now. I have to remind myself he is still the same player I saw at Juve. I think the fans are going to come down harder on him because of the expectation created by the fee. I always felt he was overrated at Juve and didn’t quite see why we were paying so much for him, other than the fact that he’s a typical Mourinho type player. He has some great skills of course, but in the games I saw him play at Juve these were sporadic and I felt he strolled through a lot of games.
Now he’s here, I’m glad, and I can see that it’s going to be money well spent. But I think the price tag has gone to his head and he needs to calm down. At the moment he’s a flash Harry and wants to show off every time he gets the ball. It’s fun to watch and it means he’s produced some touches of brilliance, but he’s also squandered a lot of possession and opportunities. He also needs to work on his fitness too, because as good as he’s been in most of the first halves he’s played in, he’s been poor in the second halves of most games.
HEMOR: Overrated? I don’t agree. Overpriced? Definitely, but who isn’t overpriced nowadays? Even if he is, he will definitely become a great player because he’s already a world class CM and one of the best (some even say he’s already the best) at 23 years of age, and I’m glad we signed him back. I think we just need to set up the team to suit him better than we have and that’s by playing with 3 CMs, which will give him more freedom to do his thing.
JIM: Let’s be honest, most players are overpriced nowadays, thanks to the TV deal and the business culture of modern football. We easily have the money to afford Pogba and if a relegated player in Wijnaldum is worth £25 million and Higuain is worth £75 million then £89 million isn’t a bad price for somebody who’s already brilliant at 23 and has all the talent to become the world’s best midfielder. He’s a player we’ve needed to fill the Scholes role and if we have to pay that much for a player we need then so be it.
CARL: He’ll start producing more frequently. I don’t think the 4-2-3-1 alongside Fellaini offered us the best chance of getting the best out of him.
COREY: If you look at it purely on playing ability, then yes, players are way over priced… You can’t tell me that Pogba is 80 times better than players playing for bottom feeder teams in the Premier League that are paying £1 million for their players. But when you pay £80 million for a player, you are paying for his off-field abilities as well. Pogba is a brand in his own right, his ability to sell t-shirts, his ability to appear in commercials, his ability to fill seats, etc. If you think of it in terms of buying a business, then United just paid £80 million to merge with Pogba Inc.
Pogba has already sold enough merchandise to pay his fee 2 times over. United didn’t even blink an eye. His on field performances will come. Anyone expecting him to be eight times better than other players in the Premier League is delusional. He is not going to score 40 goals a season, or get 30 assists, or whatever. At the end of the season he will probably have 10 goals and a few assists, but he will still be one of the most important players in our team.
I think fans criticizing him need to just hush up and give the lad a chance. Lets not forget Pogba had hardly trained with the team when the season started. He missed the entire preseason, so he has had not the chance to gel with players, or learn Mourinho’s system.
DAN: Even though he has played for us before at youth level, it’s going to take time for the lad to settle into his surroundings and also to get to know his new team mates. It’s all about patience – he may have gone missing in the derby, but not a lot of people had good games and I think people are expecting too much too soon. The only way to judge if a player was overpriced is over a season or two, not after 4-5 games. If Pogba is with us for the next five years and is successful and plays well he will be well worth the money.
RICK: I would say he’s a complete midfielder if there ever was one. Honestly, if you think of any attribute a midfielder should have and ask yourself whether Pogba has it, you’ll probably agree that he has. People say he disappeared during the derby game, I disagree, the whole team disappeared. Pogba played well when he had the ball, but the problem was he had no support. I watched him stroll past 3 players on a couple of occasions in the second half to find there was no pass on, so he inevitably lost the ball. There is no way he should be going past so many players only to find himself isolated, that is poor performance from his teammates.
Ask yourself which midfielder in our team can effortlessly stroll past 3 of City’s players with the ball when he wants to. Because Pogba does things effortlessly, people think he’s not doing anything, but compare what he does to other midfielders and that is where you find how good he actually is.
REX: Expectations are unrealistic in terms of his play. People expecting assists and goals left and right are deluded. From the position he’s been playing up to now, its going to be hard for him to do that in abundance. He’s there to push the ball forward to the wings or the number 10.
I do think he tries too hard. Some of the moves he makes on the field have you thinking ‘was that really necessary?! You could’ve easily passed without all that’. He wants to do it all. Just get the ball…get it to the forward players…that’s the job in midfield – and occasionally score a few and make a few assists. I can shrug off his misses against Stoke but he just needs to calm down because the talent is all around him, all he has to do is trust the others.
FAB: Look, the price tag maybe did affect him in the previous games but not in the last three games. Against Leicester and Stoke he had Herrera as his partner and he owned the place. The fact that he didn’t score against Stoke was because of luck, but the times where his price tag was affecting him are over. Herrera gives Pogba the security to go forward without the need to track back.
For me he is worth every single penny. The price is just a number that we decided to pay for a specific player. What really matters is his quality and we all know what Pogba is capable of.
Pogba’s game by numbers vs Stoke:
4 key passes
91% pass acc.
People have started moaning just because he didn’t score when he had plenty of chances to do so. But sometimes you have to have luck on your side. They were even questioning our team’s spirit because we didn’t score. It’s pathetic for many reasons.
RICK: Those stats might not even do him justice, he was immense against Stoke, it’s just that the back of the net evaded him. If he’d had 100 shots, I don’t think the ball would have found the back of the net. I don’t think Mourinho could have said it any better in his presser when he described the game. On another day we could have won 10-1 with all the saves and woodwork hit.
CARL: What Pogba proved against Stoke was there can sometimes be a fine line between brilliance and failure. If he and Zlatan were in a finishing mood, even with half of the efforts they created for one another, then they’d have had a number of assists and goals to their name and we’d be praising their excellence instead of questioning his talent. It’s a shame that one key aspect of their games were so off yesterday when everything else was so frequently exquisite.
BETS: I don’t think his game was perfect apart from the finishing. I thought he played well in the first half but in the second he was poor. He gave the ball away, sometimes in defensive areas. He shot from long range when there was a good pass on (Zlatan looked frustrated a couple of times). Am I the only one to think the price tag has gone to his head, and that he thinks he’s Messi, Pele, Maradona and Ronaldo combined? He was even outmuscled a few times in the second half, by Bony for example.
DAN: And the smallest player on the pitch outmuscled him too. For me he has had two good games, in the rest he has been average. He doesn’t seem to put any effort into the game and spends most of the time strolling about.
RICK: Bony is a small rock and there aren’t many players who can outmuscle him to the ball. So to compare him to Bony is quite unfair. I wouldn’t say Pogba was exceptional, but he was good. And we want our players to have the freedom to take long range shots; sometimes you have to buy a ticket to win the raffle. Although I agree, sometimes he could have made better decisions.
About his skills, I remember growing up wanting to see these players perform these skills and entertain the fans. That’s part of what you pay your money for. As for him losing the ball, maybe he did lose it a bit often at times, but when you’re trying through balls or a tight pass you risk losing the ball.
BETS: I just think he needs to be told not to try the Hollywood pass or the Ronaldo stepover every time he has the ball. He also dwells on the ball too much and gets involved in a shielding situation, which he usually wins but could have been avoided in the first place by a simple pass.
REX: He’s been good enough for a guy who’s been in a slow Italian league. Let’s face it, he was playing basketball one day, and two weeks later, he’s playing 90 minutes in almost every game. So it’s going to take a while, and maybe as fans we should look at the player rather than his price as well. We expect so much so soon because of his price. He’s been solid since Herrera became a constant at DM. He just needs to work on his finishing.