Paul Pogba’s exit from Manchester United was confirmed on June 1 after six years at Old Trafford.
The midfielder was a marquee signing in 2016 from Juventus, with his return heralded as a significant moment for the Red Devils in the post-Ferguson period.
However it never really got going for the France international, with poor form and struggles to accommodate his style of play attracting criticism from large sections of the media.
Not only was he not performing on the pitch in the red of Manchester United, but his personality and laid-back character was a large bone of contention during his stay in the Premier League, with Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness particularly critical.
The former Liverpool man became renowned for his devastating attacks on Pogba, and here, 101 Great Goals counts the 10 most savage comments towards the World Cup winner.
‘Do what Maroune Fellaini does’
One player you wouldn’t expect former world-record signing Paul Pogba compared to, is workhorse Marouane Fellaini.
But that’s exactly what Graeme Souness did when he said this: “I want to see Paul Pogba do what Marouane Fellaini does: pop it off nice and simple.
“I’m not saying Fellaini is a better option, what I’m saying is he’s a bigger threat – he’s more effective. He’s not easy on the eye, he’s a bit of a thug at times, which doesn’t make him a bad guy.
“That’s the question mark I have against him. He’s got technique. He’s a bit of a YouTuber, isn’t he?”
‘He’s not up for the fight’
Pretty much the most damaging thing a pundit can say about a player is question their commitment and their desire, and they were things often levelled against Pogba during his time in Manchester.
“If I’m sitting in Manchester United’s dressing room today, I’m glad Romelu Lukaku has gone and don’t want Paul Pogba in there with me either if he’s not up for the fight ahead and is also keen to get away,” Souness said in August 2019.
‘His attitude is the polar opposite of mine’
Souness was renowned for being a hard man in the middle of a supremely successful Liverpool side, and his approach to the game could not have been more different to Pogba’s, which is perhaps why he took such umbrage at his performances.
“Pogba has absolutely everything to be a top player – great athleticism, super technique – but his attitude to the game is the polar opposite of mine,” Souness said in 2020. “He goes out with one thought in his mind: ‘I’m going to show everyone how clever I am today and be the star of the show.’
“My attitude, the way I was taught, was: ‘Go out and work harder than the guy you’re in against and see where that takes you.’ He’d be an absolute doddle to play against.”
‘All about Instagram followers’
The famous #Pogback social media campaign run to announce the return of Pogba to the club he had quit as a teenager was a forerunner to a recurring theme during his time there.
His huge reach and popularity on social media raised questions over whether or not there was ulterior motives for signing the midfielder.
“If United are offering Paul Pogba a new contract, it’s surely only to recoup some of the £89 million they paid for him. I’d question if you want him around your club with the people who appear to be advising him. All United’s rivals will want Pogba to stay this summer, which is an indictment in itself, and I often wonder if it’s more about Instagram followers than giving his heart and soul to his football,” so said Souness in April 2022.
‘Doesn’t merit his place’
It had appeared for some time that Pogba was on his way out of Old Trafford, with neither party particularly keen to sign a new deal and time running down rapidly on his contract.
There were no apparent takers in the transfer market for a World Cup winner, but he kept his place in the Manchester United side.
“I reckon Pogba’s only in the team to maintain his transfer value until United can sell him, because he doesn’t merit his place for any other reason,” Souness said in 2018. “Perhaps we’re now seeing the selfish player Fergie didn’t fancy first time round?”
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