Robert J Wil­son sugggests that play­ers tend to hold the up­per hand th­ese days…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Mour­inho and Pogba’s bat­tle

BROADLY speak­ing, it can be quite dif­fi­cult not to have a smirk on your face when dis­cussing the very pub­lic fall-out be­tween Jose Mour­inho and his most ex­pen­sive player, Paul Pogba.

Yet again, a seem­ingly once happy camp is im­plod­ing with Mour­inho at the helm, but is it to­tally his own fault?

From the out­side look­ing in, the in­sti­tu­tion that is Manch­ester United ap­pears to be very much in tur­moil. They have made their worst start to a sea­son since Sir Alex Fer­gu­son’s most test­ing times as man­ager back in 1989 be­fore ‘that header’ from Mark Robins in an FA Cup tie at the City Ground, Not­ting­ham, changed foot­ball his­tory for­ever. Or so we are to be­lieve.

The Manch­ester United board at the time were hugely in­flu­enced by Sir Bobby Charl­ton and he later re­vealed that it was never their in­ten­tion to sack the Scots­man af­ter just three sea­sons.

Charl­ton, a proper foot­ball man, ap­pre­ci­ated the foun­da­tions that Fer­gu­son was qui­etly con­struct­ing be­hind the scenes and he made sure they stuck with their man. Twenty-seven ma­jor tro­phies later and that de­ci­sion now ar­guably looks the finest ever in pro­fes­sional sport!

Mour­inho is go­ing through his own pe­riod of sport­ing ad­ver­sity and it will be very in­ter­est­ing to see if he can come through it, or is in­deed given the time to. The si­lence from the Manch­ester United board­room this time around speaks vol­umes.

Hav­ing been out­played by the likes of newly pro­moted Wolves and West Ham and be­ing de­servedly elim­i­nated from the Carabao Cup by Cham­pi­onship club Derby County, the knives have been sharp­en­ing for a while now. It looks as though Mour­inho will do well to make the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow.

The an­tics and be­hav­iour of Pogba are hardly help­ing his man­ager, though. He seems to be the pop­u­lar school kid who thinks that he is un­touch­able when it comes to de­fy­ing his teach­ers.

Pogba di­vides opin­ion. On his day, he is a very tal­ented foot­baller with plenty of ath­leti­cism, clever foot­work, of­fers a goal threat and pos­sesses a strong en­gine on him - but when he isn’t par­tic­u­larly in the mood, his po­si­tional sense can go hay­wire to the detri­ment of his team, and he can be­come slug­gish in his de­fend­ing and pass­ing.

It can prove costly and it is no great sur­prise when Mour­inho hooks him off be­fore he costs his team points. At 25, he is still frus­trat­ingly in­con­sis­tent.

Some­times, Paul Pogba plays merely for Paul Pogba and when you are strug­gling for re­sults, it isn’t the ideal time to be do­ing that.

It isn’t the ideal time to be mess­ing about on your mo­bile phone ei­ther when your team-mates are strug­gling to progress in a home cup-tie against a team from a lower divi­sion, but there he was, Mr.Look-at-Me, in an all-white track­suit, high up in the stands at the The­atre of Dreams, pro­ject­ing him­self on so­cial me­dia in the mid­dle of the game. Laugh­ing with your team-mates when your team are strug­gling does not sit well with sup­port­ers and, most cer­tainly, your man­ager.

Now for me, Pogba typ­i­fies what is all wrong with the mod­ern day foot­baller. He is too flash, he doesn’t care too much for re­spect­ing his man­ager and he would show lim­ited loy­alty to Manch­ester United if an­other big club came in and of­fered him and his agent, Mino Raiola, even more money.

First time around, the shrewd Fer­gu­son had worked out Pogba and his agent’s main mo­ti­va­tion. Pogba blamed his ac­ri­mo­nious move to Ju­ven­tus on his lack of game time and, to a cer­tain ex­tent, he had a point af­ter only mak­ing seven sub­sti­tute ap­pear­ances for the first team, but, on the flip side, that was dis­re­spect­ful to the likes of Paul Sc­holes, Ryan Giggs and Michael Car­rick who were well ahead of him at the time.

As we know, they were all top pro­fes­sion­als, as were the other mid­field­ers at that time, Dar­ren Fletcher and Park Ji-Sung. Those two never moaned about a lack of game time be­cause they knew that their chance would come, of­ten in the big games as well.

Granted, Pogba’s move to Ju­ven­tus was a good one. He got played more, he got paid more, his agent got paid more and he was suc­cess­ful. He set­tled down in Turin, won four scud­et­tos and a cou­ple of Coppa Ital­ias and played his way into the French na­tional team.

The Pogba brand in­creased around Eu­rope but it was still a ma­jor sur­prise that it was Manch­ester United pre­pared to pay a then world record £89.3 mil­lion to take him back to Old Traf­ford in 2016.

Surely, the warn­ing signs had been there first time around? Wasn’t Fer­gu­son still on the board of di­rec­tors? Surely, when his agent asked for a re­ported £27 mil­lion for bro­ker­ing the deal, they should have backed away from it?

In­stead, Mour­inho placed his faith in the French mid­fielder and, at times, he has looked like a £89.3 mil­lion player. At other times, he’s looked more like an £800,000 player!

Pogba em­braces the press and makes ill-ad-

vised com­ments that cre­ate the wrong type of head­lines for his man­ager and his club.

He seems a happy-go-lucky kind of lad and I’m sure he is a very pop­u­lar team­mate at Old Traf­ford, but it is cry­ing out for him to be more pro­fes­sional. To pos­si­bly act like a leader and in­spire his team to some much-needed points.

Mour­inho has been right to crit­i­cise his be­hav­iour and stripped him of the vice-cap­taincy to make a pos­i­tive point. Pogba has to be­come more of a team player and stop point­ing the fin­ger of blame at oth­ers, well mainly at Mour­inho and his de­fen­sive tac­tics.

Now, it will be ar­gued that his na­tional coach, Di­dier Deschamps, knew how to get the best out on him at the World Cup. It makes for a valid point, but let us not for­get that Deschamps has, in the past, left Pogba out of key matches.

Be­cause of that Pogba knew that in Rus­sia if he didn’t play to ‘team or­ders’ then he could miss out on po­ten­tially lift­ing the World Cup.

To his credit, he ex­celled at the World Cup and scored a mem­o­rable goal in their grip­ping fi­nal win over Croa­tia. Even Mour­inho said he had seen a more ‘ma­ture Paul Pogba’ in Rus­sia.

At club level, it is dif­fer­ent, though, be­cause he is on a long and lu­cra­tive con­tract and if the man­ager leaves him out or up­sets him then you can have a prob­lem­atic player in­side your dress­ing room for a long pe­riod of time. It is hard to man­age, es­pe­cially with the trans­fer win­dow ev­ery six months.

Club level is not just four weeks over the du­ra­tion of a World Cup tour­na­ment and with the na­tional team you also have the op­tion of A) send­ing him home B) leav­ing him out of fu­ture squads.

Mour­inho doesn’t have that lux­ury and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see if he is per­mit­ted to cut his losses and sell him to Spain in the New Year.

Of course, Mour­inho may be head­ing for the exit door him­self be­fore that. Ul­ti­mately, that de­ci­sion will rest with Manch­ester United’s ex­ec­u­tive vice-chair­man, Ed Wood­ward.

One thing is for cer­tain, there has cer­tainly been a ma­jor shift in the favour of the star player above the man­ager.

Own­ers and sup­port­ers tend to side more with play­ers now and that is a dan­ger­ous game to play.

It’s a shame that it has gone that way, be­cause the man­ager should be con­trol and in charge at all times. Once it’s gone, the dress­ing room can be­come a dif­fi­cult place for a man­ager to sur­vive.

I’m not too sure Sir Alex would have put up with Pogba’s be­hav­iour this sea­son or in­deed some of his in­ept per­for­mances. He al­ways said that ‘con­trol is key’ and you just have to ask David Beck­ham, Roy Keane, Jaap Stam, Paul Ince and Ruud Van Nis­tel­rooy all about that. Pogba would have been shown the door.

Uneasy al­liance: Paul Pogba and Jose Mour­inho dur­ing the Pre­mier League match at the Lon­don Sta­dium

World in mo­tion: Pogba cel­e­brates scor­ing for France in their World Cup fi­nal win against Croa­tia

Ruth­less: For­mer Man United boss Sir Alex Fer­gu­son

Young gun: Pogba dur­ing his first spell at Manch­ester United

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