Gary Neville has doubled down on his criticism of Paul Pogba and encouraged the Frenchman to prove that he is the best midfielder in the world at Manchester United this season.
The 26-year-old came in for heavy criticism for a missed penalty against Wolverhampton Wanderers last month, with many arguing that Marcus Rashford, who had scored from the spot against Chelsea, should have taken the kit.
Neville did not hold back in his criticism of Pogba, prompting a considerable section of Man United supporters to hit back at the former full-back, with many accusing him of singling out the midfielder too often.
Speaking earlier this week, Neville reiterated his criticism of Pogba and invited him to prove all his critics wrong on the pitch.
“Paul Pogba is now the obsession, because he’s the biggest player at the biggest club, he’s a World Cup winner and it should be a compliment that people are talking about it,” he said.
“When I criticised Paul Pogba after the penalty incident at Wolves, I don’t see it as being any different than the criticism of Roy Keane or David Beckham or Wayne Rooney [back when Neville was playing]. The best player, the leader, the captain in the team, will stand up and he will take the brunt of the criticism. Just as the manager will and the coach will.
“It won’t be the assistant coach, it won’t be the left winger or the right-back or the left-back, it will be the player who is the number one player in the team and that’s never changed. I speak to people, apparently he’s a great lad, he trains well, he’s a really good person – to be fair, I was at the club with him when he was a young lad.
“So when people criticise him or put the pressure on him or apply the pressure to him, it’s because he’s the best, he’s the shining light. He’s the Bryan Robson of the 80’s now. United were in trouble, people hung everything on Bryan Robson, everybody now hangs a lot on Paul Pogba.
“But that’s the pressure that he wants, he wants to be the best player in the world. So now go and show us you’re the best player in the world.”
As usual, this whole thing is quite overblown. Neville has, of course, somewhat sold his soul to the polemic devel, but he is not exactly saying anything scathing – only that, as the team’s best player, Pogba should expect most of the criticism to come down on him.
In the social media age, the attention Pogba gets does, however, massively eclipse the cumulative weight of attention received by, say, Bobby Robson or even Roy Keane.
But does Pogba care? Does Pogba care about any of this talk? No, he does not.