Paul Pogba was recently told by United Manager Jose Mourinho he would not be captain again this week. Rumours about his future intensify so do United need to be planning for the worst?
Last night’s defeat in the Carabao Cup to Derby County saw United lose 8-7 on penalties. A last-gasp Marouane Fellaini goal snatched a 2-2 draw.
But the real drama happened before the game when news filtered out that Jose Mourinho had allegedly told Paul Pogba that he won’t be captain again at the club.
This seems to be the final nail in the coffin for Pogba, as numerous reports seem to link him with a move away, particularly to fellow European giants Barcelona.
Planning for the worst
So, if he is off, what will United do to replace him? United now need to be planning for the worst.
If he does force through a move then United need to think about how to replace him and move on. As well as looking at who they will have to bring in, they also have to think of the kind of character to replace him.
Pogba is a fantastic player with all the tools both physically and technically to be a world-class midfielder; a player who can dominate his opponents with ease.
We have seen flashes of this in his career, most notably the latter stages of the World Cup for France.
In his Juventus days he was not the superstar, more a cog in a well-oiled machine, playing in a midfield with Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal. In a team with players and leaders like Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, he has no shortage of players to learn from.
If he is looking to pastures new, then Manchester United need a plan to move forward. If he does decide to see if the grass is greener in Barcelona, Turin or Paris, the vultures will be circling over Old Trafford. Only a resurgence in form and attacking play would satiate the fans.
I exclude Real Madrid from this list on the premise that allegedly Florentino Perez and other prominent members of the Madrid hierarchy won’t have any dealing with Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola.
Sergej Milinković-Savić is another young darling of Italian football and has drawn attention from a number of top clubs. United have been linked but he is a player similar to Pogba in his style and position.
Milinković-Savić is a player who has performed brilliantly for Lazio and has pundits and fans waxing lyrical about his play.
If ‘Pogexit’ happens then United will need a marquee singing to fill the void. They might have an ace in the hole with a former Mourinho player, Mateja Kežman, as his agent.
Rumours were circulating in the summer that super-agent (also agent of Jose Mourinho and good friend to Ed Woodward) Jorge Mendes was acting as an intermediary in any deal for the Serbian.
Recently, videos emerged of a frosty (to put it mildly) encounter between Jose and Pogba in training. It is hard to tell what is said but it is not all smiles and handshakes, that’s for sure.
This would be his second departure from United, his previous move facilitated by a falling out between Pogba, in tandem with Raiola, and Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson spoke glowingly of Raiola labelling him a ‘S******’.
Maybe Sir Alex saw something we didn’t in letting Pogba go over a contract dispute. All clubs have had issues with players and they have still been there when the player leaves.
Differences should not be aired in public, they should wait till in private. Either that or the player should bite their tongue until an appropriate time to do so arises.
Off the pitch the club hits new targets for commercial activities but, on the pitch, the club needs the same level of care, if not more, from the board and owners.
The board need to plan what happens next, either Jose goes or Pogba goes. Maybe both go, but one thing is for sure: they need to be planning for the worst.