Football

Keane And Vieira's Discussion On Pogba Was Summed Up By His Performance Against Germany

Keane And Vieira's Discussion On Pogba Was Summed Up By His Performance Against Germany

Few players are as polarising as Paul Pogba.

Tonight was one of those nights where, despite the glittering array of talent all over the pitch, a quick scan of your social media feed might suggest that the only player out there worth paying attention to was Pogba.

A big opening game between Germany and France in this tournament's 'group of death' is exactly the type of game that a player of Paul Pogba's calibre should relish, and based on the quality of his performance, it certainly seemed as though he did.

Before a ball was even kicked in the Allianz Arena, Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira were reunited on the ITV panel where they discussed the difference between Pogba's performances for Manchester United and his performances for France. Who better than those two to analyse the performance of a key player in the United and French midfields?

(Keane): Listen, we keep talking about Paul Pogba. There's no doubt he's a talented boy. I still want more from him, particularly when he's playing for Manchester United.

No doubt he's surrounded by probably better players and he's more comfortable in that environment with the French team. He plays on the left side and slots in. A talented player. But for me, I want more, particularly for Manchester United. But he'll still have an impact in this competition.

(Vieira): There's a question about the performance he has with Manchester United - the ones he has for the French national team are much much better.

I think maybe the system - maybe he feels more comfortable in the French system than in Manchester. Obviously he's a leader and an important player. When he's in Manchester he has to take responsibility as well.

It would be difficult to argue with any of that. Pogba's recent performances for Manchester United have been nowhere near as bad as many of his detractors would have you believe, but over the course of his United career he has not lived up to his full potential, which is to be a dominant, match-winning midfielder on a consistent basis.

Watching Pogba's performance for France tonight, it was a reminder of the player that we don't see often enough in a Manchester United shirt. He looked confident, his technique was brilliant at times, and physically he looked dominant against the likes of Kroos and Gundogan in a number of exchanges in midfield.

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He also had several moments on the ball where he delivered moments of quality, including three key passes that led to France putting the ball in the net (although two of those were correctly disallowed for offside).

The first of those was a beautiful swerved effort with the outside of the boot, from which France forced the own goal from Hummels that ultimately decided the game. Yet, in true Pogba fashion, there were questions about whether or not the pass to Hernandez was intentional, none least from RTÉ co-commentator Ronnie Whelan.

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In fairness to Whelan, he has plenty of experience and he wasn't the only one to have doubts over the pass. But it did seem a tad harsh considering the ability Pogba has and that the style of pass is something right out of his usual playbook.

Irrespective of that, Pogba was impressive tonight and not for the first time in a major tournament. It certainly should be noted that when playing for France he is alongside N'Golo Kanté, so it is no wonder he looks more assured and influential in that team, with all due respect to Fred and Scott McTominay.

But nights like this are ones to savour for Pogba supporters just as much as they are to rage for United fans, many of whom feel as though they've been short-changed by the impact of their club record signing.

If the relationship between Paul Pogba and Manchester United was doomed from the start, then perhaps his long-mooted exit will be the best outcome for both parties. If he continues to put in performances like tonight's for the rest of the Euros, then it won't be long before the suitors start lining up again.

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Emmet Bradshaw

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