After Manchester United’s much needed 2-0 win at Everton on New Year’s day, Jose Mourinho was given the opportunity to respond to legend Paul Scholes’ criticism of Paul Pogba. The Portuguese boss duly obliged.
The United boss said, via Sky Sports:
“I think the only thing Paul Scholes does is to criticise. I don’t think he comments, I think he criticises, which is a different thing, but not every one of us has to be phenomenal, like he was as a player.
“He was a phenomenal player, that doesn’t mean that we all have to be phenomenal. Paul (Pogba) tries to do his best all the time. Sometimes he plays very well, sometimes he plays well, and sometimes he does not play so well.
“It is not Paul’s fault that he made much more money than Paul Scholes. It is not Paul Pogba’s fault, it’s just the way football is.”
It was clear that Scholes’ criticism of Pogba had irked Mourinho.
“But I think Scholesy will be in the history like a phenomenal player, not as a pundit. So I prefer to look at him as a phenomenal player who gave so much to the club I am proud to represent and every day I try to do my best.”
It is not the first time a member of the class of 92 have been heavily critical of Manchester United post Sir Alex Ferguson. It irritated Louis van Gaal as well.
It is different from any other pundit as what the likes of Paul Scholes and Gary Neville say holds great reverence with United supporters.
They are club legends and while they are supposed to be neutral pundits, they are still United supporters themselves.
As a pundit, Scholes’ job is to analyse the game and give his opinion. There was no need for Mourinho to give the response he did in reality but that is what we expect from Mourinho.
Constantly looking for conflict and building a siege mentality within the club.
There is evidence of this with United’s emphatic response to the recent slump with a comprehensive win in what was seen to be a very tricky game despite Everton’s struggles.
They still took points off Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
The criticism of Pogba’s fitness and perceived dig at his attitude was excessive. Yes, Pogba did not
have a good game against Southampton but that was over the top from Scholes.
However, there was one extremely valid point Scholes made.
It was that Mourinho has been playing Pogba too deep sitting beside Nemanja Matic in midfield. He explained that Pogba is best when he is pushed further forward in more of a free role.
That is where the French man was so devastating for Juventus while Andrea Pirlo played the deeper playmaker role.
Perhaps Mourinho was listening to Scholes as less than 48 hours later, Pogba was named further forward while Ander Herrera came into the team to sit beside Matic.
Pogba gave a man of the match performance where he provided two assists. United’s record signing needs to be played there from now on to get the best out of him, he was unplayable at times against Everton who could not live with his strength and class on the ball.
Pogba has always been at his best in a three man midfield which frees him of deep play-making and defensive duties.
It allows him to be more creative in the final third. Mourinho needs to allow Pogba to play in his best position and look elsewhere for that Luka Modric, Andrea Pirlo or indeed Paul Scholes type of player.
United could look a much better proposition for it.
Unfortunately, there are not many of those types of players around but United have been linked with Jorginho from Napoli and Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl recently.
Vincent O’Shea, Pundit Arena