Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has noted that Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba could strike up a “fantastic” midfield partnership at Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho completed the capture of Pogba last week for a record £89m, and the Frenchman is set to make his (second) debut on Friday at home to Southampton.
The 53-year-old has made it clear that Rooney will occupy the No.10 role this season, whilst hinting that his main midfield duo will include Michael Carrick and Pogba in a 4-2-3-1 set-up.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, Carragher noticed that the alternative styles of Rooney and Pogba could precipitate a devastating partnership.
“I don’t particularly like it in this set-up because you’ve got two holding midfield players, but what I would say is that when Paul Pogba comes into this team, he’s a box-to-box player and at times he will empty midfield,” he said.
“I think that could be a fantastic partnership going forward for Manchester United, actually switching positions. At times Pogba can find himself in the No 10 position with Rooney deeper. Pogba can bomb past and Wayne Rooney can fill in for him in central midfield.
“So that could be a bonus for Manchester United considering who is coming into the team.”
The function of Rooney dropping deep and letting Pogba surge forward is to pull defenders out of position and break through lines. More importantly, though, it adds another dimension of unpredictability to United’s attacking approach.
With Pogba surging forward in that No.10 area, attacking moves will be centred around pinning the opposition back in a more conventional way, such is the Frenchman’s direct style. However, using Rooney – a more patient manipulator of the ball – will lead to more of what we saw on Sunday against Bournemouth: drawing Ibrahimovic further back – bringing opposition defenders with him – and consequently making space for others to run into.
In this sense, there are two forms of attack at play here. And United’s first home game of the season this Friday provides the first chance to see how this partnership will pan out.