In many respects, SAF’s decision to openly state to the media that we will not be making any more signings this summer hasn’t really changed much. We all know that Fergie is the connoisseur of mind games in the footballing world, he has been doing it rather well for 25 years now, so any statement like this has to be taken with a pinch of salt but what if the ‘unthinkable’ is true. What if he is speaking the truth? What if United are not going to bring in an established replacement following the loss of Paul Scholes to retirement?
The solution is simple, free and positively exciting. Paul Pogba. Viera-esque in his football and Keane-esque in his tackling, could a combination get any more mouth-watering? Now, initial reactions to such a strong statement might be ‘He is too young’, which is a fair point considering he is only 19. However, when you consider that against the fact that Rooney and Fabregas both made their breakthrough seasons at the tender age of 16 and you also consider how they are both massively prominent figures in the Premier League today, then you quickly begin to see that 19 is not too young at all. More recently, Jack Wilshere established himself incredibly well in both the England and Arsenal set-up last season as a ferocious box-to-box midfielder and he is 19 as well; so, in my opinion, the argument of age and inexperience is a perpetually insignificant discussion. If a player has the ability then why not use it?
Now from watching Pogba and seeing his progress, one of his greatest drawbacks is his positioning ability within a team. Now, for me, when playing in an academy full of equally young and inexperienced players, positioning is something that may well drift from time to time. Place Paul Pogba alongside Michael Carrick in the centre of the park and I think it would all change for him; to have an established international playing beside him would give Pogba the voice in his ear that would allow him to improve his game exponentially.
In terms of how he would balance the team, I strongly think he would be an ideal partner for Michael Carrick. As far as I am concerned, Michael is the only guaranteed member of our central midfield next season with SAF showing last season that he has great faith in what Michael brings to the team. If you combined the calm, collective manner of Carrick’s game that aims to retain possession and break up the opposition with the creativity and strength that Pogba possesses when he strides forward with the ball, then you quickly begin to realise the fluidity that could be provided by the pairing. Pogba also knows how to help his team in defence so wouldn’t leave Carrick isolated in protecting the back four.
Now, the most exciting aspect for bringing Pogba into the team for me is his ability to score goals. Time and time again, we see Pogba smash in a goal from 30 yards with such an ease that it almost makes it unfair for his opponents. Take these two examples; his fine effort against Portsmouth in the FA Youth Cup last season and more recently, his stunner against Fleetwood in the Reserves second pre-season friendly this year.
Last season, United lacked goals from the middle of the park; Carrick didn’t score a goal, Fletcher only scored 3 and Anderson, although having his best season in a United shirt, only managed 4. This puts added pressure on the forwards to get all the goals but if we can establish a midfielder who can not only bring the ball forward but can fire a shot in himself, then it would add a new dynamic to the United set-up. We wouldn’t have to depend on our wingers so much to bring an attacking flair up front and unpredictability in football is one of any teams greatest assets.
So, for me, now is the time for Pogba to get his chance. His inexperience is irrelevant; his age is no more than a number; with United desperately seeking a solution to the midfield deficiencies and SAF stating that we will be looking internally for options. I feel that Pogba brings more to the table than anyone else not already a first team member. Tom Cleverley is close alongside him and I think he will have an impact but I want to see Pogba getting as many opportunities next season because I think he is ready to have a say in United’s chase for our 20th Premier League title next season.