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Rio Ferdinand Gives Passionate Defence Of 'Misunderstood' Paul Pogba

Rio Ferdinand Gives Passionate Defence Of 'Misunderstood' Paul Pogba
By Mikey Traynor

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has called on those who are criticising Paul Pogba to ease up, as he does not believe the stick he takes for his performances, or his social media activities for that matter, is warranted.

In a column for The Sunday Times, Ferdinand argues that his performances have been OK, and that is something to expect in his first season back at the club.

Despite previously being critical of Pogba and teammate Jesse Lingard's dancing and 'dabbing' while the club sits in sixth place, the former United captain also argues that people who dislike him for the way he carries himself need to understand that the world has changed.

IF I didn't know Paul Pogba he would probably irk me a bit: the image, the emoji, all that. But I do know him and people get him wrong. They're looking from the outside and misunderstand who he is. He is a genuine lad who works his hardest and is very professional.

What you've got to be mindful of is that this is a new era, that Pogba's generation is different, that social media creates a different landscape for players to live in. A guy said to me last week: "All these selfies, get him out of the club." But what has that to do with football? Pogba is one of the biggest talents in the world. We have to understand the world has changed — and just judge players on their play. Paul is being criticised but he's had an OK season at Old Trafford. We've seen glimpses of what he can do. It's now about him putting it together consistently, over 90 minutes and a whole campaign. I'm certain that will come.

He's a young player, new club, new league, new manager, new surroundings and expectations — and he's finding his feet. I was the same age when I joined Manchester United and my first season wasn't the best but we won the league, so I got away with it. After that, the improvement was evident because I was more comfortable in my surroundings and felt like a winner, like a proper United player.

Ferdinand then suggested that the main reasons Pogba faces criticism over are not why the club signed him in the first place, and suggested that he is doing the job expected of him.

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He also urged those who use his inflated price tag as a stick to beat him with should give him more time.

Pogba is hammered for not defending and not scoring enough. United didn't buy him to be a defender or to score 30 goals a season. They bought him on his form for Juventus, where he had a loose, almost free role in a three-man midfield. United invested in a creative player, somebody to come in, make chances and be the dictator of the team.

I agree with those who say that for £90m you need to see more but I'm confident he will get there. The team around him is still coming together. I see a progression. They're playing football their supporters want to see, but Jose Mourinho knows there's some shuffling of the pack and investing to be done, players to get out and others to bring in. Only after the next transfer window can we say this is a Mourinho squad.

Most Manchester United fans will be happy that he is a part of the team, and he has shown signs of what he is capable of in games when Mourinho's men are on the front foot, but in the high-profile games it's clear that he has not met the desired standard, with the home draw with Liverpool standing out as a particularly bad example.

But Rio thinks he will come good on his price tag, and that his selfies are not a cause for concern.

[via The Sunday Times]

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