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Paul Pogba's Reliability Undoes RTÉ Panel's Attempts To Discredit Him

Paul Pogba's Reliability Undoes RTÉ Panel's Attempts To Discredit Him
Arthur James O'Dea
By Arthur James O'Dea
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In Factfulness, Hans Rosling explores why so much of what we assume to know of the world is in reality, mistaken. Dealing primarily with the 'first-world' perception of 'third-world' countries, the recently deceased Swede proved why even those terms are hopelessly redundant now.

Equating many peoples' view of the world to that of a person standing atop a sky-scraper and casting judgement over the minuscule people walking below, one needn't delve too deeply into Rosling's theory to see how it may work when we consider Paul Pogba.

A shadow of the 'heroic' Marouane Fellaini according to Eamon Dunphy before tonight's game, the general perception surrounding Pogba's lack of goals and assists at this year's World Cup have allowed certain quarters the satisfaction of assuming Pogba's ineffectiveness - no more so than the RTÉ panel.

Needless to say, the perception had changed at full-time. For Richie Sadlier, it was 'a complete performance.' Liam Brady credited Pogba with 'doing his job for the team.'

Dunphy's Damascus moment allowed him to witness a player who 'worked hard', and 'used the ball well' in a 'simple, but effective' manner. The one match where he apparently made a bigger contribution than any other in the tournament.

They were hardly alone in their praise.


Of course, many of those singing Pogba's praises this evening realise that his performance against Belgium is the culmination of a fine tournaments work carried out, as Jonathan Liew described, 'under the radar.'


In a recent Independent article, Liew outlined how important Pogba had become both on and off the pitch:

For a player whose job in Russia has been as much defensive as offensive, Pogba’s attacking contributions remain noteworthy. His 31 key passes are fewer only than Antoine Griezmann, his nine dribbles fewer only than Mbappe, and he has made the most solo runs into the attacking third of any French player.

Off the pitch, Pogba too has grown in stature. Right-back Benjamin Pavard talks gushingly of how Pogba has always been available to talk, reminding him of the ability that got him into the squad of the first place, urging him to enjoy the moment. “He’s maturing, he’s growing, he’s been accumulating experience,” said captain Hugo Lloris. “He’s starting to grow in the dressing room as well.”

Lloris would go so far as to call him a 'leader' in the squad. So, why had Dunphy, Sadlier and Brady missed this so spectacularly? Why did they still refer to Pogba in terms that sought to highlight a petulance that is not forthcoming, a laziness that is not evident, and a wastefulness that tonight's game only served to demonstrate he is not guilty of.

According to Who Scored, Pogba's passing accuracy against Belgium was second only to N'Golo Kante, his number of tackles second only to Blaise Matuidi, his number of key, creative passes second only to Kylian Mbappe, and, for good measure, he won as many aerial battles as Olivier Giroud - both atop France's list in this department.

So, what does this prove? Well, consider Liew's findings of Pogba's performance at this World Cup thus far. Tonight merely reinforces what he has been doing all along.

Naturally, such statistics may hind more troubling details of his play; poor touches, a pass that could have been a little sharper, a greater burst of effort to fill space and receive a pass. Yet, that the praise was forthcoming only after Pogba appeared to be doing what Messrs Dunphy, Brady and Sadlier deemed suitable is further evidence of the blinkered approach to analysis that Rosling was so sceptical of.

See Also: Watch: Lloris Karius With Another Howler In Friendly Game


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