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the giant artist

This is what so many people are getting wrong about Paul Pogba this season

Man United's Frenchman has started the campaign in red hot form but many pundits are missing the details

You can not extrapolate an entire title race from just 180 minutes of football.

But it’s impossible to deny that Man United have been comfortably the most impressive team in the Premier League’s opening skirmishes.


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A desperately poor West Ham side and a Swansea outfit without last season’s top scorer, Fernando Llorente (injured) and last season’s best player, Gylfi Sigurdsson (sold) does not represent much in the way substantial opposition.

However, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and United did just that… and in some style style.

You can’t tell but Jose is a happy man at the moment

Rex Features
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You can’t tell but Jose is a happy man at the moment

Much has been made of the returning swagger at Old Trafford and the main contributor to that is Paul Pogba.

The Frenchman struts around the pitch in a manner akin to Mick Jagger and rightfully so, he is one of football’s most marketable personalities, it’s only right he parades around like a rock star.

Pogba’s charisma makes him an easy target for critics when he’s not playing well — ‘all style, no substance’ they say.

But no such criticisms could be aimed at him right now.

Pogba has reason to be confident

Reuters
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Pogba has reason to be confident

Two goals and an assist in his first two games is just reward for a pair of fine technical performances.

And that’s what they’ve been — displays of technique, finesse, control and deadly delicacy.

So why then have so many pundits missed the point?

He ain’t no battering ram

Getty - Contributor
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He ain’t no battering ram

“What he brings you is this powerful presence in the opposition box,” BBC’s Danny Murphy said of Pogba’s influence.

“What he’s best at is using his athleticism, his power… he’s nice and fit, and strong.”

He certainly is strong, athletic and powerful but that’s not why he’s been so effective at the start of this season.

Nemanja Matic has played the role of spoiler, using his stature to bully United’s opponents, freeing up Pogba and allowing him to focus on the creative side of the game.

Same height, different style

Reuters
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Same height, different style

Few playmakers are as physically imposing as Pogba but that doesn’t mean we should put him in the box labelled ‘powerhouse midfielders’ and be done with it.

Against West Ham and Swansea he continuously chipped delicately weighted balls in between the lines of defence and stroked the ball around in the middle of the park while in full conductor mode.

We may yet see Pogba the powerhouse at some point this season but so far he’s been an artist, albeit a giant one.

Lots of playmakers can be nudged off the ball… not this one

Getty - Contributor
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Lots of playmakers can be nudged off the ball… not this one

The Sky Sports pundits also fell into the trap of focusing on Pogba’s physical attributes.

The Soccer Saturday crew highlighted United’s strong midfield in Matic, Pogba, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini.

Again, this is true, but they neglected to mention Pogba’s mastery of the subtle aspects of the game.

His creativity is of a much higher standard than that of Matic, Fellaini and Herrera; that’s not a dig at those three, they’re just different type of players.

While Matic’s presence has unleashed Pogba, his true partners in crime have been fellow creators Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the interplay between those three is cause for concern for United’s title rivals.

United fans will be hoping his form continues

AFP or licensors AFP or licensors
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United fans will be hoping his form continues

The most obvious example of Pogba’s style in the first two weeks of the season is his goal against Swansea.

The Frenchman provided the most delicate of chips to deceive Lukas Fabianski.

It’s easy to look at Pogba’s 6ft 3in muscular frame and assume he’s battering opponents out the way and steamrolling through defences.

What he’s actually been doing is using his stature to shield the ball and give himself time to display his deftness of touch, eye for a pass, and artistic vision.

He’s not your average playmaker, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less easy on the eye.

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