Tuesday 22 January 2019

'If Paul Pogba was playing under Guardiola or Klopp he would be one of the best in the world'

Manchester United's Paul Pogba reacts after the match
Manchester United's Paul Pogba reacts after the match

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Jose Mourinho must take "some of the blame" for Paul Pogba performing so far below expectations at Manchester United, according to BT Sport pundit Michael Owen.

Pogba was disappointing as United fell to a 2-1 defeat against Valencia on Wednesday, consigning them to a runners-up finish in Champions League Group H and the increased likelihood of facing an elite opponent in the round of 16.

The assistant referee's offside flag spared Pogba's blushes after he missed a gilt-edged chance from close range with United trailing 1-0, with the Frenchman freshly restored to the starting XI after being benched by Mourinho for Saturday's 4-1 win over struggling Fulham in the Premier League.

Mourinho has repeatedly clashed with Pogba publicly about his performances and attitude this season, and Owen insists the United boss is partly to blame for the World Cup winner's slump.

"I'm of the opinion that he is totally world-class playing in a certain team in a certain way," Owen said of Pogba on BT Sport prior to the Valencia game.

"I get very frustrated watching him because I know he's better than what we see week in week out.

"I'm almost siding with him because I don't think the way the team plays or the way the manager manages him is conducive to getting the best out of him."

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Mourinho has grown frustrated with what he sees as Pogba's tactical indiscipline on the pitch, while the midfielder has criticised his manager's pragmatic tactics on numerous occasions.

Owen is adamant that Pogba would be a totally different player if he were working under Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola or Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

"I think the manager has to take some of the blame – the system, the way he plays," Owen added. "I remember when he first signed they were trying all kinds of midfielders in and around him trying to get the best out of him.

"I feel sorry for him from that point of view but, as a player, it is frustrating when you watch him because he still looks like a 16 or 17-year-old learning the game. I think he could do a lot worse than just going to watch a load of videos of Paul Scholes – see when to play one touch, see when to take loads of touches, when to beat players…

"I think he makes so many bad decisions in games, which is frustrating because if he was playing as he should… if he was playing under a Guardiola or a Klopp or someone like that I think we'd be looking at certainly one of the best few players in the world, but at the moment we can't say that."

Independent News Service

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