Football Expert & Columnist
Graeme Souness explains Paul Pogba criticism: 'He doesn't understand role without the ball'
Last Updated: 11/02/18 10:33pm
Graeme Souness has defended his criticisms of Paul Pogba and believes the Manchester United midfielder has failed to develop his game since arriving at Old Trafford.
The Sky Sports pundit was asked about recent newspaper comments criticising the midfielder's "schoolboy" positioning ahead of Manchester United's trip to Newcastle on Super Sunday.
But, speaking from the Sky Sports studio before United's 1-0 defeat, Souness explained his stance, questioning Pogba's impact and understanding of his role for Jose Mourinho's side.
"He has super individual ability - there is much to admire about his technique when he is on the ball and his general athleticism," Souness said of the player who joined United for a then-world-record £93.25m fee.
"But if I am playing today I want to play against him because he is never where he should be when I am in possession. The criticism I have is that he doesn't understand the role when not in possession. I don't see any changes in his play from the day he arrived to now.
"With all his attributes he should be a bigger goal threat."
Asked for his take on Pogba's contribution, fellow Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry said: "When you have quality, people always expect you to do wonders and the price-tag doesn't help at times.
"I don't think he is a holding midfielder. I didn't think I was a winger but then I went to Barcelona and they asked me to do a job and Mourinho is asking him to do a job.
"But does he have an impact on a game as a holding midfielder in the same way he had an impact against Everton or in his Juventus days? At Juventus he used to play in a certain position where they clearly didn't trust him in the middle of the park so they played him more on the sides. Then when he is on the ball he can have an amazing impact on the game.
"Can he do a job? Yes he can do a job, but is he N'Golo Kante? No. Kante senses dangers and knows where the ball is going to be. He has that in his DNA. Paul Pogba has more in his DNA to be up there, create.
"But Mourinho plays him there now, and you need to adapt and find a way to be efficient when you don't have the ball. I know it's not always easy and he will have to do it."
Co-commentator Gary Neville admitted Pogba still needs to add "maturity" to his game but insists Manchester United are better with him in their side.
"You hope he would be developing and getting better," Neville said. "He does need to add maturity to his game. He has that schoolboy-ish feeling of always wanting to be on the ball; the kid who, in the playground, when you are defending, is always looking to get free.
"I do feel sometimes he would be better in a three but Manchester United are far better with him in the team and, when you look at him as an individual, there are a few in the team who you can look at and say they are extremely talented.
"Jose's job is to mould them into a team for the next few months ahead of what has to be a charge for the title next season."