Manchester United legend and now football pundit, Gary Neville, has had his say on the form of Paul Pogba and the issue of Mourinho benching him for academy player Scott McTominay.
Better players than Paul Pogba have been left out of Manchester United sides in the past and it is the Frenchman’s responsibility to respond positively, says club legend Gary Neville
Neville insists Pogba’s exclusion is the kind of personality test that many United greats have had to withstand in the past.
Pogba was seen to be arguing with the Man United manager Jose Mourinho on the touchline during their match against Tottenham Hotspurs which they lost 0-2. Subsequently, he was dropped next week for the league game against Huddersfield and then in the FA Cup against the same opponents. He was named on the bench for the crucial match at Sevilla in the UCL, but was subbed on after 17 mins only due to a hamstring injury to Ander Herrera.
He has been massively criticized for his poor form (and so Jose Mourinho for not playing him in a more advanced role), but Neville insists that he should accept the criticism in a positive manner and should improve and show character on the pitch to prove his doubters wrong.
“It’s a tough one for Pogba to take because he’s been left out of a big match, but I was at United for 20 years and saw players left out of matches sometimes – players who were probably better than Paul Pogba,” Neville added.
“He shouldn’t take it as an offence, he should knuckle down as all great players and great characters do when they get dropped, to fight harder and make their way into the team.”
“Over the last 10-15 years you think of Wayne Rooney who’s been dropped, he was one of the greatest players United have had. Other players, Nemanja Vidic at times, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, myself, all players who have played 400, 500, 600 games for the club have been dropped.”
“There’s no given you’re going to play in the team, everyone has to accept it’s going to come to them and you’re going to be dropped and that can be at different parts of your career.”
“The headline out of the game the other night in Seville was obviously that Pogba was dropped but I was delighted that McTominay played, and that Jose Mourinho had faith in a player to go into a really difficult atmosphere in Sevilla and to give him that trust and faith was a really big move.”
“It was suggested that Jose Mourinho wouldn’t give young players a chance but to leave out your record signing and play a kid from your academy in one of his first big games, I would say, is just an incredible show of faith.”
“It’s great for McTominay and great for the academy at United so that young players think they can come in and get a chance in the biggest games. That’s what the club has always been about and where I think it stands apart.”
Whatever the situation is, Pogba will probably start against crucial home game against Chelsea today and has a good chance to prove his doubters wrong.