Saturday , 1 April 2023

How Paul Pogba became another Ralph Rangnick Headache at Manchester United

It is simply impossible to ignore the recent performances of the French midfielder. But, unfortunately, this season is by no means the most successful in French midfielder Paul Pogba. In the summer, he may leave Manchester United, where he returned from Juventus in 2016 for 105 million euros. Still, he never found the harmony he experienced in the Italian Serie A. Moreover, in the 2021/22 season, Pogba’s hamstring problems worsened again, which is why the venerable Frenchman had to miss the game segment from November 10, 2021, to February 3, 2022.

At the moment when Pogba was once again in the Mancunian infirmary, the head coach changed at United. Instead of the Norwegian Ole Gunnar Sulscher, who failed to reach the heights, he was invited, came the German Ralf Rangnik, who signed a short-term contract until June 30. Alas, but the Red Devils did not make a quick leap up in the results and permanently disappointed their fans with a new mentor.


In particular, on February 4, Manchester United sensationally flew out of the FA Cup from Middlesbrough. In this match, Pogba returned to the field, who, despite the frankly sad spectacle on the part of most colleagues, acted very brightly and effectively. Alas, in their current state, United can lose to anyone and at any moment. The team was engulfed by problems overshadowed by the scandal surrounding Mason Greenwood. Most of them had to be solved by Rangnik. Pogba also threw questions to the German.

Due to a long absence, as well as an uncertain position about the future at the club, many Manchester United fans have already begun to get used to the idea that Paul Pogba will soon leave Old Trafford, as a result of which it is necessary to assess the possibilities of the team’s development without him. But, of course, the Frenchman’s contract with the Red devils is calculated until the end of the current season. It is still unclear whether Paul will agree to stay in Manchester, but to claim that United will be stronger without him is incredible stupidity.

For example, in 82 minutes on the field in the match against Middlesbrough, Pogba performed 91 technical and tactical actions with a marriage rate of 29%. In addition, the Frenchman actively participated in martial arts (total — 29, won — 16), was good in strokes (full — 8, successful — 5), and also completed 11 passes at once to the final third of the field (8 were accurate) and 3 to the opponent’s penalty area (all were accurate).

We must not forget that Pogba earned an 11-meter shot in that game, which Cristiano Ronaldo could not implement. It is essential that the Frenchman showed a desire to fight for his team to the end and made a strong impression on experts and fans. And Ralf Rangnik probably appreciated how his team might look when Pogba finally takes the field.


Mainly because of the quality of the game in the FA Cup, Rangnik subsequently entrusted Pogba with a place in the team’s starting line-up for the Premier League games against Burnley (1:1) and Southampton (1:1). So naturally, the “red devils” could not celebrate their victory, but the French midfielder again did not disappoint.

With the “maroon” on his account, there were 97 actions in 96 minutes of pure playing time and the “saints” – 90 moves in 98 minutes. Almost no one demonstrates such intensity of work at United now. In the aspect of Pogba, this is also important because Paul can combine both attacking and defensive elements in actions as harmoniously as possible.

As soon as Ralph Rangnik took over as coach of Manchester United, he immediately made it clear that he needed the services of only those players who wanted to contribute to team success. Initially, Pogba’s name was not on the list because the Frenchman’s future in Manchester is not defined, and his stay in the infirmary did not contribute to the fastest possible rapprochement of the football player with the new coach and his concepts. Therefore, the favourites of Rangnik in the centre of the field were McTominay, Fred or Matic, but not the disgraced Pogba.

For the match against Brighton, which took place on February 15, Rangnik decided to do without Pogba in the starting line-up. The French legionnaire appeared on the field only in the 73rd minute instead of Fred, but already in compensated time, he gave an assist to Bruno Fernandes, who put an end to the match – 2–0 for United. Yes, someone will say that 99% of the merit in this ball belongs to the Portuguese, who overcame a considerable distance and struck an accurate shot. Still, Pogba quickly played a free one, seeing Fernandes’ opening and organizing this very partner’s run.


On the other hand, Pogba managed to prove to Rangnik that he could be incredibly useful for the team in a short period. Before joining Manchester United, the German specialist understood who Paul Pogba was and what potential he had. Still, the German could not help but realize that getting the most out of the Frenchman was a challenging task, and neither Jose Mourinho nor Ole Gunnar Sulscher had previously managed to cope with it. The midfielder is often hindered by something, especially in England, where he has very high demands.

On the other hand, Rangnik and Pogba may well be in the same boat now. Both can leave United in the summer, but they can also stay at the club if they prove that the team’s future looks very dim without them. So is it interesting for a German and a Frenchman to stay at Old Trafford? Judging by the lack of indifference to what is happening on the part of both — somewhat, yes. But can they provide the whole team with a qualitative leap up in terms of results? Here the answer cannot be at least relatively unambiguous.

However, right now, Ralph Rangnik has enough problems and causes headaches. Fortunately, the return to the ranks and the current playing form of Paul Pogba is instead a pleasant headache for the German, if such, of course, exists at all in life and is not a bland journalistic cliche.

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