Opinion: Paul Pogba needs to start showing his worth

Opinion: Paul Pogba needs to start showing his worth

He may not have set his price tag, but his performances for Juventus did. Pogba now needs to start producing for Manchester United and repaying United's faith.

Craig Millar

He wasn't signed with an expectation to score 40 odd goals a season. He wasn't signed to supply 20 odd assists either. He is not Claude Makelele and nobody is expecting him to be a one man defensive wall. So what was Paul Pogba signed for, and why is he the most expensive footballer on the planet?

His performances so far in a Manchester United shirt have done little to answer those questions.

Just like United as a whole at the moment, Pogba is a work in progress. There are little signs that they are about to burst into life, but an ineffective game readjusts the thinking. There have been plenty of flashy moments, but Pogba was bought to dominate games and so far it is hard to pinpoint one where he has.

Fenerbahce at home in the Europa League has to be his best game for United and the closest he has come to stamping his authority on proceedings. He scored two goals and was the best player on the pitch. Fenerbahce were poor though, they have had a Jekyll and Hyde season. Poor or not, Pogba could not repeat the trick for the return in Turkey, and United slumped to defeat.

Pogba has been anonymous when United lose

United's defeats this season have been where Pogba has been scrutinised the most. Manchester City at home was a bit of a chastening experience. Jamie Carragher took great delight in highlighting his poor discipline, and whilst he could have been cut a bit of slack so early in his return, the criticism was justified.

Yet in the subsequent defeats to Feyenoord and Watford, Pogba probably turned in worse performances. Against Watford, he was also guilty of allowing his man to sprint off him while he stood rooted to the spot, and that led to the third goal. He escaped criticism, whilst Luke Shaw got it in the neck for not closing down initially.

The lack of discipline is not an accusation that he is flying into tackles, but that he is not aware of where he should be, when he needs to track back, or just maintain the midfield shape and hold his position.

One of the problems early on was that United were not picking a settled midfield and there was no real protection from whoever was selected. Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera were Pogba's partners to begin with, first the Belgian and then the Spaniard taking over.

Neither Fellaini or Herrera could compensate for Pogba's waywardness, and as a result United were getting punished. Pogba was not helping defensively, but he wasn't doing a great deal at the right end either.

Carrick allows Pogba to play

It was only when Michael Carrick was finally entrusted with some game time that Pogba seemed to start to come out of his shell. Carrick played the anchor for the Fenerbahce home game, when Pogba flourished. Yet before that game against Liverpool, without Carrick, Pogba had a good game playing further forward with Fellaini and Herrera in behind.

He was back as part of a two against Chelsea with Fellaini pushed on, and United were torn to shreds. One step forward and two steps back. Since the Chelsea defeat he has produced some great moments. His goal against Swansea was a beautiful strike and his ball to Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the equaliser against West Ham in the league game was sublime.

Yet these moments are fleeting, and he is not really dominating proceedings. Against West Ham, United toiled to a draw in the league. They deserved more, but didn't get it. A few days later in the League Cup, United demolished West Ham with a scintillating display. It was by far the best display of the season. Pogba was suspended.

Rooney was on form against West Ham

Wayne Rooney has his fair share of critics, and he probably has too many. Yet he is criticised because when he doesn't play well, he usually has a stinker, and those are more and more frequent. In the cup against West Ham though, Rooney was magnificent. Alongside Anthony Martial, another player who was struggling for form, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Ibrahimovic. they were all outstanding.

They played with pace, guile and creativity. They scored four, but it could have been a lot more. Mkhitaryan was probably the catalyst, he is a quite brilliant player, but Rooney excelled. Rooney was suspended at Goodison Park, and Pogba returned. The performance was chalk and cheese, and Pogba didn't come out with much credit.

This is not to suggest that Pogba should be dropped in favour of Rooney. However, Pogba does have to start showing he deserves a place in the side. Juan Mata was also left out against Everton, and he could consider himself very unfortunate. He was in a rich vein of form, and one of United's most consistent performers, but if Pogba is fit, Pogba plays.

Pogba will come good

He is a fantastic athlete, has great strength, wonderful skill, he has vision and can create and score goals. He is the full package, but he is not showing enough quality in games right now. United are dominating, creating chances but not killing off games. Pogba is on the periphery of everything.

He will come good, it is only a matter of time, but for United and Pogba it would be better if it were sooner rather than later.