This is a think piece written by The Daily Mail on Paul Pogba’s natural position on the pitch. I think this is a really good idea. Pogba playing on the left side of the pitch really opens up the Man U attack. Thus, the Red Devils attack is opened up and gives the guys the best options to put the rock into the back of the net.
The Daily Mail: Manchester United may have started the year with a victory, but that didn’t stop a war of words breaking out between the club’s past and present.
Paul Scholes, quiet and unassuming midfield maestro turned acerbic BT Sport pundit, made the suggestion that Paul Pogba was ‘just strolling through games.’
‘Where is the Paul Pogba we saw at Juventus?’ thundered Scholes after United dropped points five and six of the festive period against Southampton on Saturday.
‘He was all over the pitch, he was battling, he was tackling, he was sprinting to people, he was scoring goals from 25 yards out.
‘He does not look like a player who will win you games and that is what you pay £90million for.’
Emboldened by the 2-0 win at Everton on New Year’s Day and a far more dynamic Pogba performance, United manager Jose Mourinho returned fire.
‘The only thing Paul Scholes does is criticise. He doesn’t commend, he criticises,’ he said.
‘It’s not Paul Pogba’s fault that he makes much more money than Paul Scholes. I think Scholes will be in the history books as a phenomenal player, but not as a pundit.’
Pogba will be right alongside Scholes in the pantheon of Old Trafford greats if he produces the kind of performance he did at Goodison Park on a regular basis.
And it owed everything to a simple tweak to United’s set-up that someone as tactically astute as Mourinho should have recognised some time ago.
United should be assembling their team around their £89m record signing and had Mourinho listened to Pogba the Frenchman might have avoided the sub-par form of last season.
Asked in a Sky Sports interview about his best position a year ago, Pogba said: ‘I would say midfielder on the left. If you play a three I can play on the right or left, but I feel more comfortable to play on the left.’
So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that when Pogba played on the left of a midfield three at Everton, he performed with the command and creativity Scholes alluded to.
With the presence of Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera alongside him, Pogba was liberated to roam further forward and support the forward line without his mind being clouded by the burden of defensive responsibility.
Seizing control of the contest in the second-half, Pogba’s passing and vision were superb and he teed up both United’s goals – scored by Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.
As Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry said: ‘When he play like that and when he plays on the left, coming in and being kind of free, it’s very difficult to stop him.
‘I said when he first arrived that, for me, he is not a holding midfielder. This was vintage Juve Pogba. When he plays at that level he is almost unplayable.’
The 4-3-3 system came about because United were without wing-backs Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia – through suspension and injury respectively – meaning Mourinho had to switch from his trusted 4-2-3-1.
It was around this time last year that United also played a 4-3-3 system, usually with Pogba playing on the right side, and played some of their best football of the campaign.
But Mourinho reverted back to 4-2-3-1 and Pogba was pushed back into the central midfield two, where he can’t get forward as much as he’d like and therefore can’t play at his optimum.
Surely now the evidence is clear enough to Mourinho that United stick to the midfield three set-up, allowing Pogba, whose form has improved this season anyway, to dictate matches.
Scholes referred to the ‘Juve Pogba’ as though he was some kind of extinct creature but the managers he played for there – Antonio Conte and then Massimiliano Allegri – knew how to deploy him in order to influence games.
And regardless of the formation, Pogba always played on the left. He was helped by the fact he played alongside the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio.
There would always be someone alongside him willing to put in the defensive donkey work, meaning Pogba could push forward, play his passes and get in those positions to shoot 25 yards from goal.
Sometimes there would be a midfield three, sometimes four, and sometimes in effect five when the wing backs got forward, but Pogba was always controlling the tempo from the left.
It was from this station that Pogba, who scored 34 goals for Juve, developed into one of the best players in the world.
During four seasons in Turin, he won the Serie A title every season, and was instrumental in their run to the Champions League final in 2015.
At United, if Matic, or occasionally Michael Carrick, plays the defensive shield role, then Pogba can stamp his authority on Premier League matches as well.
So far, for their £89m, it has often looked like United bought a pale imitation of ‘Juve Pogba’ but that clearly doesn’t have to be the case.
It now remains to be seen whether Mourinho has recognised Pogba’s best position or whether he will once again return to the 4-2-3-1 that so shackles him.
If so, even Scholes may crack a smile.