Paul Pogba: Expensive flop or world-class star? The Sunday Supplement panel debate the Frenchman
Pogba made his first United appearance since December in Friday's 1-1 draw at Spurs
Last Updated: 22/06/20 8:25am
Expensive flop who continually flatters to deceive, or world-class midfielder with the medals to prove it - those were the contrasting views on the Sunday Supplement after Paul Pogba's long-awaited Manchester United comeback at Tottenham.
Pogba made a 27-minute cameo off the bench to help earn his side a deserved 1-1 draw at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday Night Football, the player's first appearance this year.
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And it was Pogba's mesmerising close control and quick feet near the right-hand byline that resulted in the 81st-minute penalty which Bruno Fernandes converted to bring the visitors level and keep alive their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.
However, while some have hailed the France international's display in north London, others believe the jury is still out as far as the 27-year-old's career at Old Trafford is concerned.
'Nothing but an expensive flop' - Neil Custis, football writer, The Sun
"They are talking about cameos and glimpses, Pogba was brought in four years ago to be a central figure and lead Man United, but he has been nothing but an expensive flop.
"I have not been to a single Man United game where I have come away and thought to myself: 'Was not Pogba brilliant today?' He has not done it.
"He has just come back from the longest ankle injury in history during which time we have seen him training in Dubai, dancing at his brother's wedding and shooting hoops in Miami while the rest of the team have been getting on with it and pulling Man United out of a desperate situation that they seemed to be in for about six months to the position they are in now where they are on the way back.
"Players like Scott McTominay, Fred even, have stepped up to the plate. Bruno Fernandes has done more in nine games than Pogba has influenced the club in four years.
"Now people are going to say he had this sterling career if I can get the Juventus argument in first - I might have been able to get in that team and they may still have won Serie A! They won Serie A twice by 17 points and once by nine points during his time there, they are about to win Serie A for about the ninth time in a row.
"They were the dominant force in Italian football and he was asked to come to Man United to pick the team up, be the central figure, and he has not been able to do it. And actually, he has looked at it and thought: 'I do not think this team is going to win the title,' and he has just not fancied it. He almost downed tools.
"People talk about how he did not get on with Jose Mourinho - no, he did not get on with a manager who was trying to get him to follow instructions and whatever you say about Mourinho, he has plans to win football games and to win titles and if you stick to those, more often than not it tends to be successful and history has proved that.
"He did not want to stick to it, he wanted to do what he wanted, as he was able to do at Juventus because of the players around him. Now he just has not done it for Man United and we seem to forget a lot of these things and he has been welcomed back as this hero, people are being excited, him and Fernandes - what a combination it will be.
"But there is nothing to suggest that will necessarily happen. Fernandes absolutely, but Pogba really has to prove himself again to Man United fans and to the football world that he is this great world-beater.
"Mourinho said two summers ago that I want him to show what he has been showing for France and all hell broke loose that he was being nasty to Pogba, he has rained on his parade. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said exactly the same thing this week and we have not seen that and it is time we did see it.
"And until we do, I will still regard him as an expensive flop."
'World-class performer with the medals to prove it' - Darren Lewis, football writer, the Mirror
"As far as Pogba is concerned, there is almost a determination to characterise him as being selfish, lazy and somebody who does not care about the team.
"And it is interesting that we are spending this energy on a guy who came on for 20 minutes at the end of the match as opposed to another record-breaking signing like Harry Maguire, who was left for dead by Steven Bergwijn when he scored that goal to open the scoring in that match on Friday night.
"I keep hearing: 'If he wants to be a top player,' Paul Pogba is a world-class player, a top player, and there is a determination to find the negative, rather than emphasise the positive regarding Paul Pogba.
"Tell me the last time a Man United midfielder last scored with the regularity he has, you have to go back a few years, he has a very good goal record. He has won four Italian titles, the World Cup, reached a Champions League final, won the Europa League.
"Yes, he might not have the dynamism that say Gareth Bale had when he went to Real Madrid and had an explosive impact straight away and you saw where that money went.
"But Paul Pogba is a player who if you bring in somebody of that calibre, it is your job as a club and a manager to get the best out of him, to create the conditions to get the best out of them.
"Things may well have gone wrong under Mourinho, we do not know what happened there, but certainly we need to be balanced with our assessment of Paul Pogba. I am not sitting here saying he has been perfect and that every United fan is particularly happy with him, clearly that is not the case.
"But to suggest that he is either selfish, not good enough, did not make key contributions in the sides that won silverware, disrespects the player for me. And I think we start moving away from that…"
'Pogba must lead from the front'
Speaking on Super Sunday, Gary Neville has called on the France World Cup winner to lead by example as the club's 'one true world class player'.
"A committed Paul Pogba can be a great player for Manchester United," Neville told Sky Sports. "His goal and assist numbers are very good over the last couple of seasons.
"They are up there with the best. Hopefully with the economical problems and clubs can't spend 80, 90,100 million on players, United will keep him. Pogba will then understand that's he's staying - all I ever want from him is commitment.
"I've never blamed him for United's troubles, I do believe he's the one true world class player, although I would have put David de Gea in there two years ago. Pogba should be the one to lead from the front and if there's speculation around his future it does create doubt in the dressing room. Now there's a better chance of that team succeeding."