Name one similarity France and Manchester united shared recently? Both produced lacklustre displays which ended in embarassing defeats in their last game. United lost 3-1 away at rivals Manchester City and France were kicked out of the Nations League playoffs by a rejuvenated Netherlands team. One common thing in these two defeats was the absence of Paul Pogba in midfield.
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Manchester United have made it a habit of going down by a goal early in their games recently but most of the time they manage to fight back in the second half to get a result or even win. The famous win in Turin against Italian powerhouses Juventus comes to mind.
Pogba plays a big part in these comeback wins. With his physicality, technique, passing abilities and dribbling skills, the Frenchman is the engine in United’s midfield. His absence meant United were always defending and unable to get out their own half. The fight back in the second half was feeble and ineffective as City kept dominating.
United fans will be hoping he comes back quick.
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Next came the international break, where France needed to avoid defeat against the Netherlands to top their group and make the Nations League play offs. Instead the Oranje defeated them soundly, with Deschamps exasperated by the complacency of his world champions. Pogba is well known as one of the leaders in that dressing room and his absence was felt.
Without “The Pog” to inspire them, France felt apart.
The former Juventus player has been much criticized in the past year, with some claiming he’s not the world class player we think he is. The second star on the french national team’s jersey would disagree. Pogba is one of the best midfielders in the world right now and if the more United surround him with better players, he can aim to be *the* absolute best.
They say “absence makes the heart grow fonder” – usually I would say this is a cheesy line but maybe it does apply to Pogba’s case. If fans and pundits do not understand his quality and importance for club and country when he is on the field, maybe his absence and its consequence will open their eyes.
Onward and upwards, Paul!
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