Football

Posturing Pogba's Exit The Perfect Opportunity To Change United's Rotten Culture

Posturing Pogba's Exit The Perfect Opportunity To Change United's Rotten Culture

Paul Pogba has flattered to deceive for the vast majority of his three seasons at Manchester United. Always capable of producing flashes of brilliance, he often let games pass him by. This was especially true in the biggest games of the season, when he usually looked like a passenger in the United midfield.

Pogba plays on the fringes of games, waiting for the opportunity to produce something spectacular. When that moment passes, he fades out of the game once more. Rarely did we see him take a game by the scruff of the neck, or raise the performance level of his team mates as you would expect the world's most expensive central midfielder to do.

His stats and YouTube highlights suggested a world class player, but to consistently watch him perform over 90 minutes told an entirely different story.

Considering all of this, his possible departure from the club this summer was largely met with indifference from Manchester United fans. Some are still spellbound by his obvious talents and strong media personality, but many have also accepted that it just has not worked.

The player himself has today confirmed that he would like to move on, telling reporters in Tokyo:

For me I have been for three years in Manchester and have been doing great; some good moments and some bad moments, like everybody. Like everywhere else.

After this season and everything that happened this season, with my season being my best season as well... I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else.

I am thinking of this: to have a new challenge somewhere else.

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With Real Madrid and Juventus apparently waiting in the wings, we could be nearing the end of this failed reunion. That may be for the best. It can be sometimes better to just accept that these things have not worked, and this is the perfect opportunity for United to change the culture within their squad.

Pogba himself is not entirely to blame for his failings at Old Trafford. The club has been in flux for six years now, with bad a short term transfer policy plaguing their efforts to compete at the top level. The player is symptom of this phenomenon as much as he is a cause.

In many ways this seemed a match made in heaven. In another sense, the two could hardly have been worse for each other.

Paul Pogba has a social media presence that few other athletes can match, and you would be foolish to think that this did not play a part in United's decision to bring him back to the club. For a corporation that is so obsessed with growing their brand, splashing out a world record fee for Pogba seemed like the prefect move.

And yet, his presence at the club divulged all of their worst influences. If his social media performances were world class, his showings on the pitch were usually far less so. Big names bring in big money, but they do not guarantee results.

There seems to be a rotten culture within the current United squad, with a number of players possessing attitudes that could generously be described as questionable. Much of the toxic atmosphere in the dressing room was blamed on Jose Mourinho, but the issue was not long about rearing its ugly head once again once the early glow of the Solskjaer era wore off.

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'Proper football men' can go wildly overboard with their criticism of footballers using social media, but there was a genuine sense that some Manchester United players cared more about their own personal image that their team's fortunes on the pitch.

Hide for months at a time, then perform a pre-planned social media friendly celebration when they actually do something on the pitch. Pogba was not the only player guilty of such offences.

Paul Pogba wanting to leave should be seen as an opportunity to change the culture within the club. No longer chasing the big names or the largest possible online presence, but instead recruiting hungry players who fit into a footballing philosophy.

Leave the off-field matters to one side for the first time in the post Ferguson era.

Of course, all of this is predisposed on the notion that Manchester United have learned from the errors of their ways, something that is not necessarily a given.

However, there does seem to be changes afoot. Daniel James has been brought in from Swansea, the Aaron Wan-Bissaka deal is close, with the likes of Sean Longstaff has also linked. Hardly the biggest names, but at least they will have the desire to grow along with the squad.

It represents a major shift in transfer philosophy, where big names were the be all and end all. Could this long term thinking be the way forward? It certainly could not fare much worse than the methods of old.

Perhaps the Paul Pogba transfer at Manchester United will be looked upon as the microcosm of all that was wrong with the club in the past few years. Time will tell.

When he does leave, United need to use it as an opportunity for a fresh start. This should be viewed as an opportunity, but also a vivid reminder of where they went wrong in the past. If not, history will likely repeat itself.

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Gary Connaughton

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