“It’s a conundrum.”
This season, Solskjaer has often deployed Pogba in a wide role — a move, which Owen believes, arises from the Norwegian’s lack of trust in Pogba‘s defensive nous in the middle of the park.
On Sunday, during Man United’s Premier League clash against Aston Villa, Pogba was positioned on the left side of an attacking quartet with Scott McTominay and Fred placed in midfield.
Solskjaer has often resorted to the aforementioned formation with Pogba playing out of his preferred position, leading to suggestions that the Norwegian doubts Pogba’s defensive capabilities in midfield.
Pogba has previously been questioned over his defensive frailties in the past. Back in February 2018, Arsenal legend Thierry Henry suggested that Pogba’s skillset makes him better suited to attacking rather than tracking back.
“Can he (Pogba) do a job? Yes, he can do a job, but is he N’Golo Kante? No,” Henry told Sky Sports.
“Kante senses dangers and knows where the ball is going to be. He has that in his DNA. Paul Pogba has more in his DNA to be up there, create.
“At Juventus, he used to play in a certain position where they clearly didn’t trust him in the middle of the park so they played him more on the sides.”
Michael Owen on Pogba.
Owen, speaking on Premier League Productions, believes that Solskjaer’s distrust of Pogba playing in midfield is the reason for the Frenchman being positioned in a wide role.
“I know every Manchester United fan around the world would agree: get Paul Pogba in alongside one sitting midfield player,” Owen said.
“Then you can get an extra body going forward, the likes of (Edinson) Cavani and you can put (Bruno) Fernandes in behind with the two normal wide players.
“However, as it is, you have to put Cavani on the bench because you don’t trust Pogba in the middle as a sitting midfielder so you have to stick him out wide. It’s a conundrum.
“Whenever they play against a very good side, he (Solskjaer) goes back to basics. He goes back to thinking, ‘I need those two protective midfield players’.
“When he’s playing an average team at home, he’ll go and play all his stars. He lets the shackles off.
“But I don’t think he totally trusts Pogba in that role as a centre midfield player alongside one of them.”