Paul Pogba has sent a bold message to his critics following his winner against Australia last weekend, labelling himself as the most criticised player in the world.
The Frenchman, in the eyes of many, failed to live up to expectations during his second season at Old Trafford, during which he spent a number of games on the bench.
He nonetheless produced superb displays against Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, claiming 12 assists and scoring six goals in total.
Speaking soon after netting the winning goal in France’s opening World Cup game, Pogba claimed that the criticism sent towards him is unfair.
“I am less entitled to make mistakes than others,” he said. “I went from the biggest transfer in the world to the most criticised player in the world. The critics are always here. That’s football.”
“When I was little, with my friends, we always used to take the p*** out of each other, saying ‘You were good, you were bad.’ It’s what happens on every football pitch and I treat the criticism now like I did when I was playing on the block as a kid.
“I never listen to it. I’m out there having fun – and that’s the only answer I can give to all those people who criticise me or think I am this or that. It’s not a big deal. Everybody has opinions.”
Every player, especially those of a high profile nature like Pogba, needs a measure of criticism. It is inevitable.
But the sheer extent and very nature of criticism sent the Frenchman’s way goes beyond the realms of sanity. It only took Mark Lawrenson half an hour to mention his hair last Saturday.
For all his faults, this is a man who has scored at the World Cup and European Championships, won league titles with Juventus, reached a Champions League final, and won trophies at Old Trafford. He is still just 25.
You have to ask yourself, with those achievements in mind, whether the amount derision which goes his way is fair.