Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick has discussed how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactics could be a problem for Paul Pogba.
Although Pogba is a versatile talent capable of playing a variety of roles, Chadwick feels he probably won’t have too many opportunities to play in his favoured deep-lying central midfield position due to the way Solskjaer has set his team up this season.
United have had some success with a strong defensive midfield partnership of Fred and Scott McTominay, with Solskjaer keen to be solid in that area of the pitch and looking for creativity further forward.
That’s seen Pogba play in a more advanced role, and sometimes even out on the left-hand side, though he got a chance to start alongside Fred against Brighton at the weekend.
Chadwick likes what Pogba can bring to that role and thinks it’s where the player himself wants to be playing, but he’s suggested Solskjaer might not want to deviate from the system that’s worked for him this season.
“I think that’s the position Paul Pogba would like to play, as a deeper-lying midfielder,” Chadwick told CaughtOffside.
“He’s been tried higher up the pitch for Man United but that number 10 position is Bruno Fernandes’ now so I can’t see him playing there.
“Recently he’s had some really effective performances from the left-hand side, coming on against AC Milan and making a fantastic impact there on his return from injury.
“It’s been a while since he’s played that deep central role and he looked a little lacklustre at times, but he got the assist for the winning goal.
“He’s always going to lose the ball more than the likes of McTominay, Matic and Fred because his passing range is more expansive – he’s always going to try to play the forward pass and try to split the defence more than the more defensive players.
“It’s not a bad problem to have, having a few different positions, but I think long-term that’s the role he wants to play. I think maybe the style that Solskjaer has set up, with two defensive players in there, there’s not much of an opportunity for Pogba to get in there.
“It wasn’t a brilliant performance from him but it wasn’t a terrible one either. I think it’ll take time to get back to his best form after injury, but I’m confident that’s a position he can play, as well as inside-left or a number 10 position. He’s not had that many chances to play deeper this season because of the emergence of McTominay and Fred as a partnership and the style the team’s looked to play.”
Chadwick was pleased to see Man Utd grind out a result against Brighton, and singled out Mason Greenwood for praise after the youngster scored the winner in the second half.
“It was more or less a typical game for Manchester United at Old Trafford this season – it was quite a slow start, they found themselves 1-0 down, but then they did what was needed to get the result,” Chadwick said.
“Mason Greenwood was, for me, the stand-out performer. It was good to see him scoring a goal and being in that kind of position inside the box. Over the past few weeks, even if he’s not had the return in terms of goals, he’s started to look a bit more like his old self. His confidence is back up and he’s starting to look like the player he was last season.
“Him coming into form towards the end of the season when goals are needed to maintain second position is going to be important for the team.
“Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, the two stand-out players in the back four this season, were both good against Brighton. Other than that, it was an unspectacular performance but an important three points at this stage of the season.”