Former Arsenal forward Thierry Henry has hit out at Jose Mourinho for using Paul Pogba in the wrong position at Manchester United.
The Frenchman’s best performances of the campaign have come when placed in a midfield three and handed a chance to roam forward down the left channel – a clear example being Man United’s 2-0 win over Everton.
But to the frustration of many supporters, Mourinho has used Pogba in a midfield pivot in defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United during which he failed to have an impact on the game.
And Henry, speaking in the aftermath of Man United’s defeat to Newcastle, made it clear that Pogba wasn’t a holding midfielder.
“When you have quality, people always expect you to do wonders,” he said.
“I think the price tag doesn’t help at times. In France people love him but that doesn’t explain what you need to do on the field or not. I don’t think he’s a holding midfielder, and I’ve said it so many times.”
Mourinho surely didn’t break the world transfer record for Pogba’s positional play, defensive reading of the game, or ability to track runs down the middle. These are not his strengths by any stretch, yet the 55-year-old, to the detriment of his side as a whole, continues to persist with playing him in a position where his weaknesses are highlighted and his best qualities ignored.
Pogba is a playmaker, an innovator, the driving force for attacking movements, the brain of the team – a man capable of reaching double figures in goals and assists every season. And when given the chance unleash these attributes this term, United have been genuinely brilliant, ticking along with intensity and precision.
Everybody can see it. The potential is tantalising. And if Mourinho doesn’t give him the license to breathe then it will be one of the biggest footballing crimes ever committed.