Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United captain Gary Neville admitted that the club's record-signing Paul Pogba has been a "big miss" for The Red Devils, as they slumped to their second defeat of the season on Sunday with the 1-0 defeat to current Premier League champions Chelsea.
Looked like they didn't know where the next pass was
José Mourinho's side had a storming to the campaign on all fronts with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan putting in performance after performance, but it was young Frenchman who was the standout who was looking to build upon his first season back at Old Trafford which many critics called a dud.
Pogba managed two goals and assists in his opening four league matches before he took on Basel in the opening clash of the Champions League. The 24-year-old took the armband that night in September but hasn't played since he picked up a thigh injury during the game.
United continued to perform well but lost that attacking flare that Pogba had been bringing with his assertiveness and fantastic range of passing. It has also seen the form of others suffer with Lukaku now failing to score in his last seven games for his new club.
Pogba's presence was missing on Sunday at Stamford Bridge as United failed to consistently create chances of significance against Antonio Conte's men, and post-match Neville stated that the Frenchman's presence on the field has been a "big miss" for The Red Devils.
"I thought Manchester United got killed in midfield," Neville said after the Chelsea defeat. "United were well short in that area."
"If you dominate the midfield in a big game then you're in business and Chelsea did," the pundit proclaimed. "I think Pogba is a big miss because of his arrogance and confidence to take the ball."
"He takes the ball in tight areas," the former full-back stated. "When Chelsea got the ball there was rhythm, it was already popped off around the corner."
"But United looked like a midfield that didn't know where the next pass was," Neville added. "Pogba holds the ball, he beats a man."
Positive on a return for the festive period
Pogba hasn't been the only long-term absentee for Mourinho this season with captain Michael Carrick also been injured since September, and the midfield duo joined Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimović on treatment table.
Rojo and Ibrahimović have been missing from the back end of last season with significant injuries, the good news seems to be that they are on the mend with Rojo been placed in the squad for the 1-0 win over Benfica and Ibrahimović reportedly ready for the clash with Arsenal at the end of December.
Another international break has come along just at the right time for The Red Devils to get some of these crucial players back, and Mourinho stated that they are in "good positions" to come back for the Christmas period.
"We have the group of players which are the ones that we hope will recover as soon as possible," Mourinho told manutd.com. "They have to work every day but they are in a good position now. Pogba, Ibrahimović, Rojo, Fellaini."
"They are in good positions," he concluded. "So I think we can go into this part of the season, the Christmas period, and after, in a strong position."