Manchester United legend Phil Neville has given a strongly-worded response to Paul Pogba being left out of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting XI in a few games this season.
The France international has long been a divisive figure at Old Trafford and is often the first player that pundits and ex-pros will criticise when things aren’t going United’s way.
Now, however, Neville insists Pogba should be starting for the Red Devils if they are to play the kind of football they’re renowned for, following Solskjaer’s decision to leave him on the bench again in the weekend win over Everton.
While Neville seems eager not to point the finger at Solskjaer directly, he seems to be implying it’s the wrong decision from the Norwegian tactician, though it could also be taken as a nod towards Pogba himself for not doing more to get into the team.
Speaking about the issue on Premier League Productions, as quoted by the Metro, Neville said: “I still think it’s absolutely disgraceful that Pogba can’t get in that team.
“For United to win a league, for United to be successful, for United to play the style of football that Ole wants them to play then Pogba has to play.
“You can play one of them [Nemanja] Matic, Fred or [Scott] McTominay and then you play Pogba with [Bruno] Fernandes.
Asked if Pogba could return to the team in a deeper role, Neville said: “Probably not no but I’d rather go out there and score goals, go out there and go for the win playing the Manchester United way with Pogba in the team.
“I know I’ve said about him wanting to leave, not wanting to be there and his inconsistencies but I still think he’s one of the best midfielders around. That’s why I’m thinking: Why is Paul Pogba not in that team?”
It could be a long road back into the side for Pogba, with another former Man Utd player, Luke Chadwick, telling CaughtOffside he would have to adapt his game and learn from the likes of Fred and Scott McTominay in terms of putting more effort in defensively if he plays a deeper role.
“The back four looks so much more solid with Fred and McTominay in front of them,” Chadwick said. “Solskjaer’s found a different system with those two covering so much ground, doing a lot of the dirty work for the likes of Bruno, (Marcus) Rashford and the forward players to play.
“It’s entirely up to Paul Pogba in terms of what he can do to get back into the team. He has to look at those deeper players (Fred and McTominay) and what that role entails. At his best he’s more than capable of doing that role, but while McTominay and Fred are playing with so much energy, he’s finding it hard to get into the team. It’s up to him what he does when he comes on in games and what he’s doing in training, to push himself back into the team.
“I think it would be really hard for Pogba to play in that advanced position. I think Pogba’s at his best in that deeper position that he plays for France, almost like a quarter-back.
“We know how gifted he is in possession but maybe it’s the other side of his game, particularly in the rigours of Premier League football, that you have to do that other side just as much. In that 4-2-3-1 shape that Solskjaer favours, it’s harder for him to get in the team if he’s not going to do that stuff out of possession.”