Paul Pogba was once again singled out for criticism after Manchester United‘s 1-1 draw against relegated Huddersfield Town – but not everybody thinks the midfielder is the problem at Old Trafford.
With United now certain to miss out on Champions League football for next season, every pundit under the sun has an opinion on where it’s gone wrong for them.
We’ve taken a look at what various pundits think United should do with Pogba, who made the PFA Team of the Year but continues to divide opinion away from the pitch.
Neville has spoken at length about Pogba on numerous occasions but perhaps summed up his feelings in the aftermath of Jose Mourinho’s sacking by tweeting: “You do one as well!”
And the United legend questioned Pogba’s long-term commitment in the midst of the midfielder’s good form following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arrival.
“This is only three months of football out of two and a half years, nearly three seasons,” he told Sky Sports. “So let’s keep it in balance. If he’s playing like this in two years all of us will be saying wonderful, fantastic things.
“My personal view is his agent will be in to him in the next transfer window or two or three and be saying to him ‘come on, we need to get over to there now. I need to get over to there.’ And that’s my worry with him. Can he be trusted for the long term at the club? We trust him at the moment. Can we trust him for the long term?”
And while Neville has not quite come out and said Pogba should be sold, he heavily hinted at that following United’s 4-0 defeat at Everton, telling Sky Sports: “I don’t need to name names Dave everyone knows who they are.
“They are in the newspapers every day they are on social media ‘He’ll deal with them. Every single player who does not have the attitude. Forget talent. I’ve fallen into the trap over the last 18 months of talking about, ‘Oh, they’ve got potential and talent.’
“Forget it. If they don’t work hard and haven’t got the attitude to run around in that shirt then get rid of them.”
Never one to mince his words, Keane made his feelings on Pogba abundantly clear ahead of United’s Manchester derby defeat to City.
“I wouldn’t believe a word he says,” Keane told Sky Sports after Pogba promised an improvement in performances. “Theres no meaning, no meaning behind it. I don’t even think he even believed what he was saying there.
“He’s on about being a good team-mate. If you want to be a good team-mate then you have to run back, you’ve got to run back when you’re defending.
“He said it got a bit heated after the game against Everton – I heard they were actually throwing their hair gel at each other, it got that heated.
“The guy is a talented boy. But we’re saying the same things over and over again and the number of times I’ve seen him in games where he’s not sprinting back or running back.
“He’s talking about body language and throwing his arms in the air – he’s a big problem for United.
“You need good examples at your football club, you need senior players. He’s a mature player, he’s played in big competitions, he’s won big trophies and I don’t think he leads by example from what I see.
“Obviously I don’t know what he is like around the training ground or off the pitch but he mentioned body language and pride, I don’t see it in his performances and my eyes don’t lie to me.”
Paul Pogba has had enough of Manchester United… pic.twitter.com/2IWMRBULVm
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) May 6, 2019
Like Keane, Scholes has made his feelings on Pogba clear and recently discussed the midfielder in detail on Premier League predictions. The whole transcript is here, but it boils down to this…
“Now he thinks everybody has got to do his work for him and it’s going against him.
“We know what he can do and we know what he’s capable of. As soon as he complicates his game, he’s no good to your team whatsoever.
“Allegri was a strong manager for him and you would have expected Mourinho to be. He left him out and didn’t have that much of an effect on him.
“He thinks he’s the big player, the one that needs to show people he’s the best in the world and he doesn’t. He just needs to play simple, he’s got team-mates around him who should appreciate him and do appreciate him.
“He’s a good lad, as a young player he wanted to learn, he was desperate to learn. I just don’t think he’s getting the maturity, the sense is not coming to him.
“At Juventus we saw the best midfield player in the world, without a shadow of a doubt. I think it’s because he had a strong manager, a top manager behind him and great players. Not just decent players like he’s got now, he had special players to guide him and to lead him. I don’t think United have that.
“He could be a player who needs a Bryan Robson or a Roy Keane next to him just to give him a little rollicking every now and then. If he doesn’t get that he just carries on in his own little fantasy world, thinking he’s the best.
“He’s part of a team, it’s not about him. It’s not just about me doing tricks and being on YouTube and showing Real Madrid or Barcelona how good I am.
“It’s about being part of a team at Manchester United. That’s why it’s so difficult to say do you lose him. Is there anybody with the ability at Manchester United to replace him? At this point I don’t think there is.”
Former Blackburn striker Chris Sutton believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to make Pogba one of his most important players.
“Manchester United should build the team around Paul Pogba,” Sutton said.
“In my opinion he’s world class. We know there’s a player in there. Did [Jose] Mourinho get the best out of him? No. Did he show signs under Solskjaer that things are turning? Yes.
“If United want to push and be serious about contending for major honours, you need to keep your best players and Paul Pogba is one of those. It’s OK people saying ‘sell him’, but who are you going to replace him with?”
While not a pundit, Zlatan is certainly a man of opinions. Wading in on the future of Manchester United, he was quick to defend his former team-mate.
“Pogba? He is a top player and he has the potential to become the best player in the world at his position. He is a good kid who trains hard and he is always ready to listen to what others have to say. You can see that he wants to win and that he wants to play every single game.”
“Things happening outside do not really bother him because when you are at that level, everyone will speak. Positive, negative, in between, everybody.”
For Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Marcus Rashford are the two players around whom United should look to build their team.
Tony Cascarino is of the opinion that Pogba has come to the end of his shelf life at United.
“This August will be three years of Paul Pogba. How has he been in those three years?” he said.
“We’ve seen some really good highs. He’s had his moments but not consistent enough and not brilliant enough to be a player you want to build a team around.
“He’s 26 years old. I, personally, would sell him.”
Cascarino earmarked three players who could be signed from the funds raised by Pogba’s sale: Luka Modric, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Declan Rice.
“I’d take Modric in a heartbeat”, Cascarino said of the Ballon d’Or-winning Croatian.
Who wouldn’t, Tony?
For Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, United should cut their losses and sell Pogba along with David de Gea – who he believes is messing the club around by not signing a new contract.
“Just make a decision, be a big club, make a proper decision,” Carragher told Sky Sports.
“If you don’t accept what we want to do, move on and we’ll get someone else. It’s Manchester United!
“Never forget how big the club is and the power that they’ve got. Don’t ever let these players dictate to the club about signing contracts, just get rid of them!”
Carragher voiced these concerns with Pogba again in his Daily Telegraph column.
“The immediate concern for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not who Manchester United should buy to rebuild the club. It is who they sell,” he wrote.
“There would be one name on the top of my list. Paul Pogba. If Real Madrid have £100 million and Zinedine Zidane wants him, United can solve the first of many problems as their long reconstruction gets underway.”
Graeme Souness – a long-time critic of Pogba’s – thinks United should aim to get back the money they spent on him and use it to sign two £50million players.
“If United can get back the £89.3m they paid Juventus for him this summer, I would take the money and move on,” Souness wrote in the Sunday Times.
“He would be a dream to play against. He lets you play because he thinks the game is all about him.
“You buy a player at that price to be the difference in the big games and he hasn’t been, so sell him and sign two £50million players instead.”
Paul Pogba is wearing gloves today. In May.
Graeme Souness is going to burst into flames when he notices.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) May 5, 2019
The former United defender is renowned as one of the brightest pundits around and has addressed both sides of the coin when it comes to Pogba.
In March, Higginbotham told Sky Sports that Pogba is merely “flirting” with Real Madrid and urged Solskjaer to build Manchester United’s team around the midfielder.
Yet in April, Higginbotham told talkSPORT: “Pogba needs to be more consistent. You know he’s got the ability, he is a world-class midfielder, but he just needs to get that consistency in his game.
“Could he be replaced if he leaves Manchester United? I hope Pogba doesn’t leave, I think he’s a fantastic player, but could he be replaced? Arguably, yes.”
Robbie Savage, once a United youth player himself, has said that Pogba would be first out the door if he was in Solskjaer’s shoes.
“Paul Pogba would be the first player I would sell this summer if I ran the show at Manchester United,” Savage wrote in a column for the Daily Mirror.
“Enough is enough. Seven defeats in nine games is unacceptable – and this time, the spotlight should fall on the players who are letting the club down, not the manager.
“No individual is bigger than Manchester United, as history suggests, and he is the first one Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should sacrifice when he begins his massive rebuild of the squad.”
Always one for a leftfield shout, Lawro thinks United should look to do a swap deal with Real Madrid for Pogba and Gareth Bale.
“In terms of Paul Pogba, I’m just so not convinced,” he told Starsport. “If you could swap him Gareth Bale, swap him all day.
“I think Bale is a big-game player and will get you loads of goals. He’s also left-sided which is unusual. That might be the way forward.
“I get the impression that all the players like Pogba. You can like him or loathe him, but if one week you’re six out of 10 and the next you’re eight out of 10 it drives the manager mad.”