Gary Neville has noted that Manchester United will miss the influence of Paul Pogba in midfield over the next few weeks.
The Frenchman picked up a hamstring injury during Man United’s 3-0 win over FC Basel and could be out of action for up to six weeks.
Jose Mourinho, speaking ahead of the clash with Southampton, was unable to shed any further light on the extent of Pogba’s injury, but did dismiss reports suggesting he would be out for three months.
And Neville, reflecting on Pogba’s knock, noted that Mourinho’s side will lack the 24-year-old’s fluidity and impetus in the middle.
“He’s a big miss,” he said.
“You talk about characters and personality on the pitch, Pogba always wants the ball and always believes in himself. Even if it’s not going well for him he’ll try the next pass.
“He has taken some stick over the last 12 months in terms of his price tag and the expectation of what people believe he should be delivering. He’ll probably admit himself that last season he fell below his standards but he started off this season brilliantly.
“With a tough run of games coming, will United manage to cope without Pogba?”
United have displayed a capacity to get the job done emphatically without the midfielder, claiming 11 goals in three games since his early injury against Basel, but the overall quality and tempo of their play has notably receded without Pogba’s presence.
What he brings, above anything, is an element of thrust and enterprise. Pogba is the last player to stagnate under pressure. He will always look to build momentum, make things happen, and keep a progressive tempo. United simply cannot replicate this, but supporters will hope that their side’s clinical edge remains.