The former Manchester United striker has explained why the France star sometimes struggles in more disciplined roles
Paul Pogba’s struggle for consistency at Manchester United is not because of any problem with his behaviour, former striker Louis Saha says.
Pogba impressed on Saturday in his side’s 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff City, registering two assists as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign as caretaker manager got off to a flying start.
It was the France international’s first start in the Premier League since the 2-2 draw with Southampton on December 1, the midfielder having been dropped by Jose Mourinho in the Portuguese’s final few weeks in charge.
Pogba’s inability to perform consistently under Mourinho was often attributed to a poor relationship with his manager, with the pair said to have clashed on more than one occasion.
Saha, twice a Premier League winner with United, thinks Pogba showed at the World Cup that he can play in a more disciplined role, but he admits it is not something that suits him.
“The issue with the word ‘boss’ is that, at some stage, a boss needs to be consistent,” Saha told Omnisport. “You need to be well-perceived in the group.
“That’s today’s criticism towards Paul. We need to understand him. Some weeks, he’s been outstanding. That’s what we expect from a player as talented as he is.
“I think that his problem is that he has so many qualities that it’s complicated to keep him in one specific position, even box-to-box or in the defensive tasks, when he can score or make the difference anyway. I think those elements are difficult for him as a player.
“He can do it because he did it with Didier Deschamps. He can do it with any team or coach. It’s not a behavioural problem but an analysis one. He must tell himself: ‘Okay, for that specific game, I need to do a certain job’. I think it’s not easy for him.”
Saha hopes Solskjaer can be a positive influence on Pogba given his selfless nature as a player and a coach.
“Ole has a lot of humility and it can help in their communication,” Saha said. “He will put his ego aside as ‘boss’ and he’ll tell himself that today the team goes first.
“It is what Ole does. He’s always done it. He made great sacrifices for his team-mates. He’s made the difference for his team-mates and his coach. That’s Ole. He will give that [to the team].
“That’s a message he’ll give gradually to all the players. They need to get their confidence back. They almost need some paternal communication. A misplaced pride in a great club constantly under the scrutiny of everyone. Whatever will happen, there they’ll talk about it because it’s one of the most followed clubs in the world. “