Tag Archives: paul pogba

It should still be Poch…no, Ole…no, Poch

Prior to the Tottenham game this past weekend, I had decided that, whatever the result, I would upload a post claiming that Mauricio Pochettino should still be the next manager of Manchester United. However, the game, and victory, threw a huge spanner in the works…

I think we can all agree that nobody expected us to walk away from Wembley with three points. It has been widely publicised that Solskjaer’s first five games as caretaker manager of Manchester United were all games that he was expected to win. Hell, even Paul Ince claims he could have equalled Solskjaer’s start. However, delving deeper into the aftermath of Sunday’s 1-0 win has enhanced the United legends stock when it comes to taking over the reigns permanently.

Let’s be honest, the five games prior to the Spurs game didn’t really tell us a lot in regards to what Solskjaer’s style would be for the rest of the season. Sure, the attacking flair was back but we were rarely in a position where a ‘Plan B’ was needed. Tottenham was always going to be the game where we gained a measure on what could be achieved during the remainder of the season.

Billed as an audition between Ole and Poch, it is certainly the former that has edged ahead based on Sunday’s showing. United were ahead just before half time courtesy of a cool Marcus Rashford finish off the back of a sublime Paul Pogba pass and few could argue that we were not good for the lead. In fact, the first half was just like the games prior. The real test would be the second half when the inevitable Tottenham backlash began.

Tactically, Solskjaer got the second half down to a tee. Sure, we were under the cosh for long periods and, yes, De Gea was a brick wall but it is already forgotten that Hugo Lloris himself pulled off three decent saves to prevent United extending their lead. In short, Solskjaer had a Plan B. Pochettino, however, didn’t.

Tottenham switched formation at the beginning of the second half, a move immediately mirrored by Solskjaer to alleviate the threat posed by Ben Davies and Keiran Trippier. The enforced Erik Lamela change just before half time proved to be disastrous as Poch then stuck Christian Eriksen out on the wing to accommodate the more centrally-minded Lamela.

The Tottenham manager refused to make any more changes until the 81st minute, removing Harry Winks for Fernando Llorente, in what looked like a desperate final roll of the dice. Admittedly, at this stage it looked as if Tottenham were good value for a goal. However, with United tiring, the change should have come at least 10 minutes sooner. Solskjaer responded immediately by withdrawing Jesse Lingard for Diego Dalot to reinforce the defence.

Pochettino failed to make a third substitution as he, quite simply, ran out of ideas. Tottenham’s fail safe ‘Plan A’ just wasn’t working and he had no idea how to change it, despite only making two substitutions and leaving Danny Rose on the bench. Introducing Rose and his pace into the game could seriously have hurt a tiring United defence. Poch, simply, got it wrong.

David De Gea has quite rightly earned the plaudits for his Wembley heroics but Solskjaer should take just as much of the glory. He won’t, because he isn’t Jose Mourinho, but he deserves every iota of praise he has received. Not only did he out think Pochettino, he got the better of him tactically and wasn’t afraid to react instantly to what was panning out in front of him.

At this point I would say my preference would still be for Pochettino to be the next permanent manager of the club. However, not for one second would I be disappointed to see Ole be retained beyond this season.

What is going on??

Those of you that follow me (not many I know) will know that I have been very much in the ‘Mourinho-In’ camp for some time. Whilst many, including our very own Mark Goldbridge, have pitched up tents over in the ‘out’ camp, I have remained across in my field, like an old man at Glastonbury a week after the festival has finished. Continue reading What is going on??

Is a Zlatan return a good thing?

“To some at United, it is not a coincidence that disharmony within the squad has become an issue since Ibrahimovic moved away.”

The above quote, published by Mark Ogden, will no doubt attract criticism and ridicule on social media but is it really that far wide of the mark? Continue reading Is a Zlatan return a good thing?

Pogba Unhappy at Manchester United!

Paul Pogba is unhappy at Manchester United and is contemplating his future after the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, according to many reports this morning.

Pogba’s issues allegedly lie around being forced to play in a midfield two and the lack of freedom he now has due to Sanchez being given a free role ahead of him. There’s also mention of Pogba being disgruntled because he feels the team should be built round him and not Sanchez.

Of course the likelihood is that all, or most, of the above is paper talk. Any chance the press get to undermine Manchester United and Jose Mourinho they’ll take it and this Pogba story certainly has that feel to it.

Pogba does operate better on the left side of a midfield three but the fact is Manchester United don’t currently have the players to fit that system. Matic and Pogba are head an shoulders United’s best two midfield options at the moment and until Mourinho strengthens his midfield in the summer Pogba will have to do his bit for the team and work in a midfield two. He certainly has the attributes to do it and as a player who’s been handed the captaincy on occasion this season, he needs to take on that leadership responsibility and work for the team not himself.

As for Alexis Sanchez’s arrival. Pogba will know bringing Sanchez to Manchester United massively increases his chances of playing in a successful side and displaying his true talent. There’s a world of difference in passing the ball and working with Sanchez than there is with a Lingard or Fellaini and Pogba won’t be petty enough to let wages and vanity get in the way of that.

Sanchez is a player with a winning mentality who visibly puts 100% in to every game and that’s been evidenced in the games he’s played for United so far. If Pogba is looking for ways to improve his current poor form a quick look at how Sanchez applies himself every game and keeps his head up even when things are going wrong wouldn’t be a bad start for Pogba.

These players need to remember, it’s not about the name on the back of the shirt, it’s about the badge on the front.

Get More on the Pogba Situation here

Mourinho Too Harsh on Pogba and Martial

Manchester United fans felt Jose Mourinho was too harsh on Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial after the win over Huddersfield.

Mourinho decided to drop Pogba and Martial amongst others for the Huddersfield game after the disappointing Wembley loss to Tottenham on Wednesday night. And whilst many Manchester United fans felt the dropping of Phil Jones and Ashley Young was justified, leaving out Pogba and Martial was seen as a step too far and led to some unhappy opinions outside the ground after the game.

See what the fans outside Old Trafford had to say here

Reasons for United fans to be optimistic this season

Exciting times are ahead for Manchester United. With the Premier League’s most successful club rightfully back into the Champions League, this season could be the beginning of United re-establishing themselves as one of the dominant forces in English and European football. Fans will now look forward to Tuesday nights against the most elite teams in Europe and with the world class talent that the club have available, it seems that United are back where they belong and are ready to return with a bang!

Another place where United belong is at the top of the Premier League. Since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United have struggled to genuinely challenging for the title. This could all change this season though if Jose’s second season statistics are anything to go by. During the manager’s second season at Porto, Inter Milan, Chelsea, and Real Madrid he has won the domestic title each time. This impressive record also includes both times he had his second season at Chelsea. So will Jose Mourinho follow his career pattern and win the Premier League with Manchester United this season? Only time will tell.

Mourinho with Europa League trophy (Picture: dailymail.co.uk)
Jose Mourinho holds the Europa League trophy (Picture: dailymail.co.uk)

A huge boost towards completing United’s jump from the sixth place finish of last year to becoming the champions of England is the signing of Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku. One of the main problems from last season was Man United’s inability to finish off countless scoring opportunities. So, Mourinho’s purchase of a proven Premier League striker that scored 25 league goals last season isn’t a bad way to solve this problem.

Furthermore, with Manchester United strengthening by signing Lindelof, Lukaku and Matic, United look a much more dangerous side already. It is not just the new signings that could help make the difference though. Pogba now looks a lot more comfortable expressing himself in the final third of the pitch due to the defensive cover that Nemanja Matic now brings to the team. The recent world-record transfer of Neymar to PSG could also help Paul Pogba impress more this season as the weight of being the world’s most expensive footballer has now been relieved from his shoulders.

Manchester United look set for great things this season and it is definitely an exciting time to be a United fan. Nothing is for certain in football, but the club are surely heading in the right direction. So lets look forward to another entertaining season at the Theatre of Dreams.

What are you most excited about heading into the new season? Will Lukaku and Pogba shine in the Premier League this season? Share your thoughts with The United Stand!

The French Confection

It’s interesting, as I peruse the meaning of the word confection in the Encarta English Dictionary, how apt a word that it is to describe Manchester United’s last gasp victory over Middlesbrough. The 1st of its definitions is that it can be used to describe something sweet, such as the sweetness and richness of a well deserved victory plucked from the jaws of a morale crushing loss.  Put simply, referee Lee Mason was being pilloried by every Manchester United fan, for a few horrific refereeing mistakes which had abetted a scarcely believable 1-0 deficit, going into the final few minutes of the match.

The 2nd of the definitions of confection states that it is the process of combining things or the result of such a combination. In essence, Manchester United became the irresistible force of yesteryear. Wave upon wave of United pressure, ceaseless barrages wore down the stubborn rear guard with both Martial and Pogba, the beneficiaries of some excellent attacking interchanges, scoring to turn the game on its head. As many fans alluded to, it was a fitting, stirring comeback on the birthday of the peerless Sir Alex Ferguson, watching on from the stands, who masterminded so many of our prodigious comebacks of the past.

The 3rd and final definition of confection is that of an often elaborate piece of craftsmanship and skill. There is a sense of optimism amongst fans that Jose Mourinho, on the back of five successive victories, showcasing progressive, scintillating attacking football that the verve and identity of the club is becoming firmly re-established. In short, that Mourinho is beginning to turn his expert hands into returning our club back to the zenith of the English game.

The French contingent of our starting line up today scored the vital goals that secured the victory and provided the classy strikes to cement our victory. Anthony Martial, despite the furore regarding a possible loan or transfer out of the club in recent weeks, was simply exceptional.  A constant thorn in the side of Chambers all game, he ran the Middlesbrough defender completely ragged.  Sadly, due to the multitude of bodies packed inside the box, the breakthrough during the opening half eluded Manchester United and Martial.

On one occasion, Martial found Marouane Fellaini with a peach of a cross but the midfielder’s header looped over the crossbar, summing up a frustrating afternoon to that point for the young Frenchman.  Indeed, after Martial hit a sumptuous long range shot which rattled the woodwork, he then proceeded to exhibit superb close control dribbling skill before delivering a wonderful, deliciously curling cross which Ibrahimovic gleefully rammed home. Sadly, the big Swede was penalised for a high foot, preventing him from equalling Messi’s goal total for the calendar year.  Replays showed that the decision was contentious to say the least and many viewers, me included, were aggrieved that the goal was disallowed.

Pogba also showed glimpses of the player I am sure he will grow to be at United, during the first half.  Despite having the unenviable task of unpicking the stubborn Middlesbrough defensive lock, illustrated through the dense, packed middle of the pitch and with the albatross around his neck (Marouane Fellaini), Pogba thrived with touches of inimitable class.  His effortless running and range of passing was a joy to behold, combining with his incredible flair, during the first half summed up by a glorious overhead kick which rattled the post.  Had this effort gone in, we would have had two sublime goals, which should have been given offside to treasure within a week (Mkhitaryan’s scorpion effort the other).

The engine room, or midfield, of a team is so integral to how well it performs and with Pogba there we have someone who can do it all. Pogba has such a plethora of attributes, one moment he is breaking up the play, the next spraying inch-perfect searing passes to every corner of the pitch, or powerfully bringing us forward striding like a colossus through the opposition’s ranks. The pass he fired at Fellaini’s chest during the first half, beggared belief given how pinpoint accurate it was from such a distance and also taking into account the Belgian’s strongest asset, his chest control.

However, somehow despite the great performances of our two French heroes and the seemingly inevitable goals that would come, our hearts sank when Grant Leadbitter found the net and it seemed that a gnawing sense of déjà vu was the most pressing French saying that came to mind. This was especially reinforced when the two failed to communicate as the ball was half cleared from a corner, Pogba‘s attempted acrobatic heroics preventing Martial from having a clearer, more conventional chance.  The former, then headed back across the face of the goal for Mata but the Spaniard’s shot was blocked by a Middlesbrough defender as the minutes ticked inexorably by.

However, there was still time for the French pair to produce two wonderful finishes and turn the match on its head. When Eric Bailly fired the ball up to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it was Martial who timed his run to perfection meeting Zlatan’s knock down and finishing with composure and aplomb. The goal was a crucial one which epitomised the Frenchman’s iron clad self belief and the precocious talent, he has displayed in his short time at United, in providing key and telling moments to change a game in favour of his side.  For the winner, Pogba sauntered into the perfect space and with the most nonchalant of headers dispatched the ball unerringly beyond Valdes’ reach into the top corner of the Middlesbrough goal.

From agony to ecstasy in a matter of moments, two French young players, for whom we supposedly overpaid in consecutive summers, repay their debt in spades with priceless goals.  Rival fans can only watch and drool over the French pair, surveying with eyes green with envy that we are able to afford to bring some of the finest most precious jewels in the world to our kingdom.

Jose Mourinho, himself, has taken full responsibility to hone these two rough diamonds into the perfect cut, at all opportunities managing them brilliantly. Of Pogba recently, he has called him “the best in the world” and his complete skill set in this position certainly does provide compelling evidence to substantiate this claim. Jose shows his tactical nous in being able to inspire players. As Zlatan says in his autobiography, Jose, “lights up the room” and “would become a guy who I was willing to die for.” By showering Pogba with accolades such as these, it becomes clear that Jose wants to be the man for whom the midfielder will fulfil his undoubted potential.

Of Martial, Mourinho has exhorted him to listen to his manager’s instructions so that he can listen to feedback on how and what to improve upon.  It is imperative that both of the Frenchmen continue to appreciate and value the advice and teachings that Jose can impart to them. Jose is a winner, who has managed many top talents over his managerial career and led them to success so I am confident that he can generate the best future for these two French prospects.

Rumours have begun to circulate that Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann could be the next French maestro to arrive at the club in the summer. This would further enhance the burgeoning French contingent at Manchester United and with Memphis Depay seemingly resigned to leaving the club the hallowed Number 7 shirt would seemingly be destined for the diminutive ace. His friendship with Paul Pogba is well known, as is his idolatry of David Beckham.  Surely, the lure of following in his hero’s footsteps and playing with his friend will prove too great a temptation to resist? Certainly, the timing looks ripe for his arrival, Manchester United have the funds, reputation and clout to circumvent any obstacle, proven through an exceptional summer transfer window before this season.  The prospect of the three Frenchmen in tandem with magical Mkhitaryan and magisterial Ibrahimovic would give any defence in the world nightmares and would certainly provide an outstanding attacking force to be reckoned with next season for a title charge.

The French confection, then have combined perfectly to take us to the cusp of the top four places.  However the remainder of the weekend pans out, we will be within four points maximum of those precious Champions League places at the halfway stage of the season.  Unbelievably, given my own and many United followers despair when we drew at Everton, just under a month ago, we have resurrected our season with the help of some of our United superstars. Today, the French Confection provided us with a sense of renewed hope and optimism that our season can provide the sweet success of cup triumphs and the Holy Grail of a Champions League berth at the end of it. Maybe this triumph will inspire, Antoine Griezmann, another Frenchman, to join the confection, providing another jewel in the elaborate creation Jose is trying to mastermind.  In the meantime, Pogba and Martial will continue to be “les incroyables” but to my mind, the prospect of this further French ingredient really would make this already mouth-watering concoction a masterpiece.

Pogba strikes late as United march on!

The world’s most expensive player Paul Pogba scored the winner as Manchester United completed a stunning comeback to give them their fifth consecutive victory and preserve their unbeaten run since October.

Middlesbrough took the surprise lead in the 67th minute through Grant Leadbitter whose right footed strike left Old Trafford stunned.

United struck back in the 85th minute through Frenchman Anthony Martial which lifted the spirits of the crowd as the Red Devils went in search for another goal.

The winner came 86 seconds later through the head of Pogba, who powerfully planted his header into the top corner to score his sixth goal of the season to send Old Trafford wild.

The manner of the victory came on the perfect day for United – the birthday of ex-manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who during his hugely successful time as manager mastered the art of the comeback.

United dominated the entire game and were extremely unlucky to not score earlier having had 32 attempts on goal. Pogba and Martial struck the woodwork and Zlatan Ibrahimovic having a goal harshly disallowed for a high boot in the first half.

Ex United Goalkeeper Victor Valdez was also in good form, saving smartly from Ibrahimovic from close range. It looked like one of them days where the ball would not go in the net for United, whose performance was worthy of the victory.

The win takes United one point away from the top four, extending their unbeaten run in the Premier League to ten games as they intensify their push for a champions league position.

For us United fans the game was hugely frustrating and it seemed like the Burnley match all over again as chance after chance came and went. But United dug deep and ground out the victory, which shows the progression the side has made in the past few months.

A few months ago, as seen against Burnley, we couldn’t make the breakthrough, but today we showed our fighting spirit and signs that the United of old was being revived through a pulsating comeback in the final five minutes.

Jose Mourinho also proved his worth through the introduction of teenager Marcus Ashford, who immediately changed the game and gave United more threat in attack. The win was a huge relief for United, who continue their fine run of form.

What were your thoughts on the game?

Tell us through a comment below!

Pogba can lead United to Premier League title!

Tweets, Instagram posts, countless paper articles and a mere sum of $100M have gotten Manchester United Paul Pogba back through the doors at Old Trafford.

In the past three seasons, United have spent excess amounts of funds on players such as Falcao, Angel Di Maria and Anthony Martial; the latter being the only successful purchase. The big spending promised so much but achieved so little.

But this season is different.

Which position should Pogba play?

Whatever country you live in; whatever team you support; every pub you walk into, Paul Pogba and Manchester United are the words after every pint. Now, the challenge for the Manchester United manager is where to utilise his Marquee signing.

There is no doubt Paul Pogba is a central midfielder. History in the Premier league will show a dominant midfielder can play a large role to success. Paul Scholes was a great for Manchester United, but every Red Devils fan will tell you we have been missing ‘something’ since the departure of Roy Keane.

A midfielder to run through a defence; to pick out a pass to break a compressed defence; the ability to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and lead your team to triumph; this is the challenge that is presented to Paul Pogba.

The success of Manchester City’s recent accolades can be attributed to Yaya Toure being hailed as the lynchpin that allowed Aguero, Silva and co. to have a confidence to be ready whenever a ball was there to be taken, because Yaya Toure is a winner.

It is now Paul Pogba’s time to return the favour to our ‘noisy neighbours’.

Pogba is the complete midfielder

Paul Pogba can provide United with the unpredictability that was seriously lacking under Louis Van Gaal as he has the ability to not only pick out a pass but is capable of scoring a goal out of nothing.

Of any midfielder in Serie A last season, the 23 year-old led the way with 12 goals and 10 assists respectively. For a player who did not require a high level of work rate, these are phenomenal numbers.

The speed of the Premier league will entice Pogba’s athletic ability to be exposed to the United faithful. His pace and strength will provide a constant threat and figure for the Reds; a figure missing for over 10 years.

There have been suggestions that Pogba can be operated in a no.10 position; however, why would you want to nullify a player so physically imposing, simply to score goals?

The Frenchman is the complete midfielder. As majestic as he is in the final third, he will be the presence in midfield when teams try to run through the Red Devil’s wall.

We finally got our man, and he might just win us the league.

Negotiations begin for £100m Paul Pogba

Manchester United have begun negotiations within the last 48 hours for French international Paul Pogba, according to Sky Sports, which is believed to be for a world record fee.

Jose Mourinho is keen to make the Juventus midfielder his fourth addition of the summer, and with Pogba’s agent being Mino Raiola, who United have successfully had neogitations with twice already this summer, there is a growing confidence at Old Trafford that the deal could be done.

The Juventus star may not be interested in a move back to Old Trafford

However, Juventus have made it clear to United that Pogba is not for sale, despite a  £100m offer may being too tempting to turn down. It is still unclear whether the France international, who left United in 2012 on a free transfer, would be interested in a return to his former club. There is no doubting United’s desire to bring their former player to Old Trafford, and they certaintly have the funds to to pull what would be the world’s largest transfer ever off.

Real Madrid still confident in signing Pogba

Real Madrid are the main threats to United in the chase for the Juve midfielder and have also held talks with Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola. Raiola has been quoted previously as saying that a move to the Bernabeu would be a good move for his client as it will be key in his clients ambition to win the Balon’dor. Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane and president Florentino Perez are still confident the midfielder wants to move to the club, however United may offer the money for Pogba that Real can not compete with.

What do you think of the potential signing of Paul Pogba? Would he be a good addition to the side, even for a world record fee? Leave a comment down below.