MICAH RICHARDS: Why the perception of Paul Pogba is all WRONG
MICAH RICHARDS: Why the perception of Paul Pogba is all WRONG… his £89m price tag saw him come under scrutiny and he will never change people’s opinions of him, but if his form doesn’t pan out it won’t be because of his character
- How Paul Pogba is perceived at Man United clouds how he should be judged
- There have been times he has disappointed but £89m price tag brings scrutiny
- He simply has it all and it feels he is expected to do everything in United’s team
- But Pogba seems like he will never be able to change people’s opinions of him
- If he doesn’t reach top form constantly, it will be nothing to do with his character
How do you judge a footballer? Do you make a decision on what you see from them on the pitch or do you have a perception beforehand and stick to it?
I’ll give you an example. N’Golo Kante is widely-regarded as a diamond. He’s a World Cup winner and does outstanding things for his club. He barely speaks, never causes an issue and just gets on with things. Your perception of him, no doubt, will be that he is a good lad.
If I asked for your thoughts on Paul Pogba, though, I’d expect many of you would not be so generous. Pogba gets negative headlines; he wears an earring and colours his hair. His character is different to Kante, he’s loud and stands out. How can he be a good lad?
How midfielder Paul Pogba is perceived has clouded how he should be viewed as a footballer
I actually believe how Pogba is perceived has clouded how he should be viewed as a footballer. He is every bit as talented as Kante and he showed it last week in Manchester United’s opening day thrashing of Leeds, with four assists in their 5-1 win. Some of his passing was as good as you will see.
I need to make it clear that there have been times since he has been at Old Trafford that Pogba has disappointed me. I played against him in March 2015, when he was Juventus and I was at Fiorentina, and I thought he came from another world.
There was a moment when I tried to get the ball off him and he flicked it over my head and ran away from me as if I wasn’t there. I thought I could outmuscle him but he is so strong and wiry, with gangly arms and legs, he just pushed me away. Right foot, left foot, speed – he’s got it all.
There have been times when Pogba has disappointed at Manchester United but he’s got it all
When he signed for United, I thought to myself, ‘This is going to be mind-blowing’. Perhaps if he had joined at a better time in the club’s history, when the team was settled, his situation would have been different now.
But it feels like everyone has looked at Pogba and expected him to do everything for the team and when he didn’t, he was the only one at fault. The £89million price tag brought a lot of scrutiny and was supposed to be the catalyst to make United trophy winners again.
To be fair to him, Pogba scored and was man of the match when they last lifted silverware in the 2017 Europa League.
It just feels now, though, that to an extent he will never be able to change people’s opinion of him. It’s a shame, really, as everything I get told about him is that he is a diamond in the dressing room, loved by his team-mates and a big influence on situations.
It does feel like everyone has looked at Pogba and expected him to do everything for the team
Ask yourself this: would Raphael Varane have come to Manchester without speaking to Pogba? That would have been the first call Varane made when he was leaving Real Madrid – if Pogba had expressed any misgivings, you can imagine his compatriot would most likely have waited for Paris Saint-Germain.
Yes, there are questions about Pogba’s long-term future but has he done anything wrong? I’d argue not. He’s not personally spoken out against United, he’s not agitating. His display against Leeds never gave you a moment’s worry about him being committed to the team.
This isn’t like what is happening with Harry Kane and Tottenham – there was an explanation for Kane not returning back to training when he should have done but, even still, Kane has been vocal in making it clear he wants to go.
We find it hard to criticise Kane because he is perceived as a good lad – he’s been widely perceived as a saint in his career – but we can’t duck away from the fact he is taking on his club with whom he is under contract until 2024. What would have happened to Pogba if he had done this?
Raphael Varane (right) would surely have spoken to Pogba before choosing to move to United
This, I must make it clear, is not an argument about race. My point about it all is that, in general, we are all too quick to make assumptions on footballers and then unwilling to change our minds later on.
What is true is that we all have sky-high expectations for Pogba – never more so than after that virtuoso performance seven days ago.
I’m fascinated because I want to see if he puts it together consistently, in a style I know he can.
If it doesn’t pan out that way, it will be nothing to do with his character.
Wayne should pick himself to lift Derby out of the doldrums
I’m pretty sure most people are looking at Wayne Rooney and the crazy situation at Derby County and asking themselves one question: why?
He doesn’t need the money, so what is he subjecting himself to this aggravation for? He can’t buy players, he’s in a situation that wasn’t of his making but he is going to be the one whose reputation as a manager is impacted by results.
So why does he do it?
I’ll tell you why: he is obsessed with football, it is his life. He’s got something burning inside him that says he has to win or be the best at whatever he does. He can’t live without the feelings football gives him.
Wayne Rooney is obsessed with football and should pick himself to pull Derby out of trouble
Derby picked up their first victory of the campaign under Rooney after they beat Hull City 1-0
I remember being with him on England duty. He wouldn’t finish shooting practice until he scored the most goals; he’d have free-kick competitions and would not come in until his was the best; he’d tackle you in games as if it was a World Cup final, everything was done at 100 per cent. He won’t let this challenge beat him.
He’s right when he says more experienced managers wouldn’t give Derby a second look but he’s doing it because that’s how football lifts him.
How does he get his team moving forward? If I was in his shoes, I know what I’d do. I’d pick myself.
Wayne might be out of condition but are you telling me he wouldn’t be the best player in Derby’s team? Imagine the lift he would give to those around him if he pulled his boots on again.
Micah’s moment of the week
Plenty has been written about the return of fans to stadiums but I couldn’t let this column pass without adding my own thoughts: the trip to Tottenham last Sunday blew my mind.
I played at White Hart Lane plenty of times and I’ve had a few visits to the new stadium but I genuinely didn’t expect the atmosphere to be so tribal and so intense. Being on the side of the pitch, looking up at the stands and listening to everything that was going on made me feel alive.
It is not overstating things to say it was one of the best atmospheres I have experienced. You expect noise and passion at Anfield or Old Trafford but Tottenham’s fans were on a par for the frenzy that helped beat Manchester City. It was a reminder of why we love football. Long may it continue.
I didn’t expect the atmosphere during Tottenham’s 1-0 win over Manchester City to be tribal
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article