The Spanish outlet claims that ‘Should United dismiss Solskjaer and appoint another coach, Pogba may decide to remain at the English giants and extend his contract beyond June 30, 2021’.
As a fan, you kind of react with indignation, don’t you? Your first reaction is that the club can’t just keep sacking managers to please one player’s ego.
But it would appear to be different in this case.
Pogba’s problems with former manager Jose Mourinho were personal. Mourinho described the 26-year-old as ‘toxic’ and it was clear there was a ‘it’s him or me’ showdown that the player ultimately won when Mourinho was given his marching orders by executive vice chairman Ed Woodward.
There is no such animosity with Solskjaer, though. The manager has consistently reaffirmed that he has a good relationship with the Frenchman. The issue in this case, it seems, is more to do with Pogba’s ambitious nature as a footballer.
Last month we reported that whilst the Norwegian appeared to have the full support of the board after a difficult run, that there was a growing concern among the players that he is not competent tactically.
And whilst Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola might be one of football’s biggest game players, he has repeatedly stated that Pogba would stay at Old Trafford if he felt the club was on the right track.
‘Manchester United needs to get their project right, otherwise there is no sense.’ Raiola said in January.
‘Everybody knows the ambition from both parts has not been met the last few years. Let’s be honest, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.’
The former pizza chef has also stated that ‘The club needs a specialist, a sports director, someone between the team, the coach and the owners’, a sentiment with which few United fans would disagree.
The fact is that the public nature of the superagent’s comments and actions has led to him becoming a despised figure among the majority of Manchester United fans and has put him at loggerheads with Solskjaer. Meanwhile, Pogba’s social media presence, his apparent lack of hurry to return from injury and his refusal to commit his future to United have damaged the player’s own relationship with a large part of the fanbase.
But put yourself in the player’s shoes for a minute. You are a World Cup winner, 26 years old, entering the prime years of your career. You are considered one of the best midfielders in the world, but you want to be remembered as one of the greatest ever. You want to be a Champions League winner, a Premier League winner … you want success.
Now imagine you are playing for a club you love, that you had chosen to go back to, but that club is being run by a board who are bungling transfers and contracts and is managed by a nice and popular guy but one who simply does not have the ability to do the job.
You are facing another season out of the Champions League and being way below the standards of bitter rivals Man City and Liverpool in the Premier League.
What would you do?
Maybe (cue howls of laughter) we should take Raiola at his word. Let’s say that by the time Euro 2020 has ended, Manchester United have qualified for the Champions League, signed Jadon Sancho, Kalidou Koulibaly and a world class striker, and Mauricio Pochettino or Max Allegri has been installed as manager. Pogba, then, would be only too happy to stay at Old Trafford, because then he would believe that the club has got its ‘project right’, as Raiola put it.
It may be that Raiola’s ill-placed and incendiary comments have ended any chance of a happy ending in terms of Pogba’s future with the Red Devils. But if you put the agent’s personality to one side and just look at the situation from the Frenchman’s position, doesn’t he just want what we all want – for United to have a chance of returning to greatness again?
Is it not true that in a recent poll, 61% of fans said they want Pochettino, and not Solskjaer, to be United’s manager next season?
Haven’t we all been stomping our feet begging for a sporting director to be appointed?
Haven’t we all been frustrated with the club’s inability to sign top transfer targets?
Very reliable sources such as Alfredo Pedulla have claimed that Pochettino is in advanced talks to become United’s next manager in the summer. It is also being widely reported that the Red Devils are favourites to sign Sancho from Dortmund. So perhaps – just perhaps – the rumours that the club may be preparing to offer Pogba a new contract may not be wide of the mark.
And with those things in place, it’s not inconceivable that Paul Pogba will stay at Manchester United for many years to come and become the fan hero he always wanted to be.
With all the recent publicity about whether some of the current squad is good enough to play for Man United, why not remind yourself of some of the worst flops to ever appear at the Theatre of Dreams by doing our quiz below?