Football

Watch: Frank Lampard Expertly Breaks Down The Problem With Paul Pogba At United

Watch: Frank Lampard Expertly Breaks Down The Problem With Paul Pogba At United

As daft as it was that Sky Sports broadcast trailers for Frank Lampard's Monday Night Football debut for days in advance, the Chelsea legend was a refreshing addition to the best Premier League slot of the week.

His team of the season so far was the topic of much debate amongst Sky viewers, but one man who certainly didn't make Lampard's XI was Manchester United's Paul Pogba.

Despite an impressive winter, United's world record recruitment again cut a forlorn figure during their horrendous 1-1 home draw with Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon, eventually looking devoid of confidence as he haplessly spurned late opportunities for a winner.

Here was a player who, earlier this season, released his own emoji, and he couldn't even strike the ball cleanly from 15 or so yards out. Pogba's struggles were the source of much joy to fans of other clubs and, such is the reflexive and radical nature of these times, Saturday once more saw the narrative to his season swing back from Pogba quietly going about his business and gradually improving to 'What a waste of money'. (Calls for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to be dropped earlier this season are testament to the fact that it now takes only two consecutive poor performances to awaken the baying mob).

All of this being said, there's no question that United fans would have expected more from a player of Pogba's ilk when he arrived in the summer. Lampard agrees, but explained how his price tag naturally inflates the scrutiny he faces after indifferent displays. He also suggested that José Mourinho is yet to find Pogba's best position in United's midfield.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKwfJKN98vY

Lampard stopped short of saying Pogba's signing had been a game-changer for United, telling Sky Sports:

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It was a signal of their intentions to spend £90m on a player that...I wouldn't say is the finished article.

He's got fantastic attributes. He's strong, great feet; he's bigger than you, he's quicker than you as a midfield player.

But when you have a 90 million-pound price tag on your shoulders, we analyse more, and we wonder more. And when you look at him at this stage of the season, I'm still wondering what's his best position, what kind of player is he? What does he want to be? And I feel a little bit like he's fallen in between [trying to do] everything.

When you pay 90 million, you want to see results. He hasn't quite delivered. Listen, he's young, and he possibly will do, but as it stands he hasn't been the game-changer.

His point about Pogba 'falling between everything' is actually spot on. Having done so in an established midfield at Juventus, the 23-year-old Frenchman is yet to define his archetype in this United side. Instead, he tries to do everything, and frequently achieves little; jack of all trades, master of fuck all.

Where during his finer spell of form between Christmas and February his passing and playmaking ability had finally been unleashed with some regularity, Saturday saw Pogba revert to his uncertain start to the season in United colours, where he tried to hard to make things happen on his own.

The conundrum with Pogba is that he either produces concise, clever pieces of play on a whim, or holds on to the ball for four or five seconds too long, displaying clever footwork before inevitably battling his way into a cul de sac.

Such inconsistency can be seen in his Premier League stats from the season so far.

Lampard on Pogba

Hardly indicative of a £90m player, even allowing for the fact that much of Pogba's enormous fee was paid with the future in mind.

Lampard used the example of other big-money players from football's highest echelon to point out the problem Pogba faces due to his fee.

I think it's difficult for him because as I said before, he has potential, but the problem he has is that all of that perception - we think of 90 million pounds, we think of Gareth Bale. Who do you pay 90 million or a hundred [million] for? Suarez, Ronaldo, Messi. They bring 40 to 50 goals a season. They win games on their own week in, week out.

We don't know that Paul Pogba can do that yet. I'm not sure he can, and he's being judged on that, so we do need to give him time. We do need to flip forward to next season and see if he's improving. For me, at 90 million pounds, at some stage he has to be that dominant midfield player, because I do believe that's in him.

This isn't a criticism session as such; we're looking at it and saying, 'What can he do, where is he at his happiest?'

And again, the problem for me is that if you spend 90 million pounds you don't want a 90 million-pound problem. And I think that's kind of what's there now. It can be solved; he can solve it personally with his own game. José Mourinho - it's his job to solve it, and he will.

But at the moment, you can see that it's not fluent. He's not in his favourite position. He's not giving those numbers.

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Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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