Why does Paul Pogba play more consistently for France?
It's coming home, well, to Old Trafford at least, as Paul Pogba will walk through the entrance doors a World Cup winner. The much-maligned 25-year-old endured a mixed first two years back with Manchester United, but this summer, he showed the world his footballing abilities.
France won Russia 2018 at a canter. Les Bleus' potent attack, with Pogba and N'Golo Kante sitting in midfield, proved far too much for Croatia et. al. Didier Deschamps' men were deserved winners, there was even talk that United's #6 was in the running to win the Golden Ball award (best player).
That begs the question, why does Pogba play far superior for his country when compared to his club?
First and foremost, I'd like to start with the managers. While it's fair to say Deschamps isn't the most attack-minded coach, he tends to spend more time on the front-foot than Jose Mourinho does. Pogba thrives in the final third. That's where he can use his power, technical ability and on-ball brilliance to hurt teams. Just look at what he did to Manchester City at The Etihad a few months ago. When given freedom to burst into the box, he can damage you in several ways.
It's something that both Pogba and Mourinho have to work on. It all starts with building an excellent working relationship off the field. When they have that mutual trust, the self-proclaimed Special One will allow the £89million man to be more adventurous. The Portuguese boss needs to have 100% faith in each and every single player out on that pitch. Luke Shaw knows about that all too well...
At United, Pogba plays like a man shackled. He spends far too long in the defensive third. Let's be honest, that's good for nobody. Why break the bank to bring in such an insane talent if you're just going to give him a role that Marouane Fellaini could fulfil with ease. It just doesn't make any sense.
In terms of overall team quality, it does help to have Kante sitting in next to him. We're talking about the player who does the dirty work wonderfully well. In fact, the Chelsea man enjoys covering every blade of grass for 90 minutes straight. It's what he lives for. Sure, Nemanja Matic is an excellent player in his own right, but at times, the Serbian's lack of mobility means that Pogba has to cover more ground; exerting himself where he doesn't really need to.
While on players. United have a star-studded attack for Pogba to feed the ball to. Despite their outrageous quality, things don't flow as freely. I lost count on how many times Pogba and Alexis Sanchez were in each other's way from January onwards. Hopefully, those issues can be ironed out over pre-season and we'll continue to see much-improved performances from the pair. Both are key to any future success the Red Devils may have.
Confidence. At the elite level, the mindset is such an underrated aspect. When you're feeling mentally and physically prepared, the performances will follow. Again, it all stems back to the relationship with your manager. Deschamps trusts Pogba, Mourinho's not fully there; yet...
As you can see from the tweet below, even the fans can't make their mind up as to what the problem is. It feels as though it's a culmination of minor things that are building up into a major issue.
I believe it will come. Pogba has to shoulder the blame, too. The fans expect better. If he can iron out the carelessness, and perhaps stop trying too hard, the midfield maestro can still deliver major silverware to Old Trafford. Everything just has to fall perfectly into place.