Former Liverpool defender and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher has criticised Paul Pogba for his “undisciplined” performance in Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday.
The Frenchman, signed for a world record £89m last month, struggled to impose himself on Pep Guardiola’s side at the heart of midfield, often leaving gaps in behind for the likes of Kevin De Bryune and David Silva to exploit.
Pogba’s offensive style did lead to several rampaging runs through the middle, but in turn left too much space in between defence and attack.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Carragher chastised the 23-year-old for his lack of discipline against the visitors.
“He was everywhere but central midfield. He should have been alongside Fellaini building himself into the game.”
It could be argued that the lessons learnt from Saturday outweigh the result itself, and the noise revolving around Pogba is a case in point.
Ask yourselves: why did Jose Mourinho break the world transfer record to sign Pogba? Was it to acquire a steely, reliable midfielder capable of recycling the ball, and not doing much else? No, of course not. The Frenchman was signed because Mourinho wanted power – raw, unyielding power – bursting through the middle. And that is exactly how he was deployed against Man City.
This, however, as shown in miserably emphatic fashion on Saturday, led to a complete exposure of Man United’s defence, with Guardiola’s system placing emphasis on deploying attacking midfielders high up the pitch. And as Pogba roamed forward, Man City had a field day.
Mourinho will now know that he has a decision to make with regard to Pogba: either he continues to play the Frenchman in midfield and balances United’s core with somebody playing in a more defensive role just behind him – like Ander Herrera in the second half – to prevent exposure, or he uses him at No.10 at the expense of Wayne Rooney – something United fans would be keen to witness.