Paul Pogba might be a contentious figure at Old Trafford owing to his rather tepid form of late, but these quotes from a former United coach would even make the most critical of the player wince.
Rene Meulensteen, who worked as a coach of the first-team when Sir Alex Ferguson was in the dugout, was speaking to Stadium Astro when he delivered some home truths about the Frenchman.
“You can have all the talent in the world but it’s about hard work, and it’s hard work that brings that quality to the surface.
“For me, he hasn’t worked hard enough. I can see it all the time, it’s too slow, it’s laboured and there is no urgency about it and other teams can capitalise on it.
“He is a very talented player. Everyone keeps talking about him – he’s world class, he’s world class.
“I would never use world class so easily because I know players past and present and they deserve the accolade of being world class. In my opinion, Paul doesn’t deserve that in any shape or form because I don’t think he’s lived up to expectations.
It comes at a period where United sit 15th in the Premier League on seven points, their worst ever start to a league campaign since the glory days of David Moyes and Marouane Fellaini.
The club have had moments of magic – in Europe they’ve been reliving the spirit they played during the end of the 2019/20 season when Bruno Fernandes first joined – but these performances are now becoming few and far between.
It’s safe to say that United are on a bit of a downward spiral – and some feel Pogba has not been pulling his weight, despite putting in a few decent performances earlier this year, when he came back from a long-term injury he obtained on Boxing Day.
Obviously Meulensteen feels this way too, which is why he’s decided to go in at the midfielder. He continued: “I don’t think we expect too much of him because of the player he has been and the trophies he has won.
“We need to expect even more from him, but that only comes from working hard. That then rubs off on other players. Not working hard does as well because they start to question those performances.”
Pogba made the return back to Old Traffford in 2016 for a then-world record £89million from Juventus, and he flourished during his first few seasons: in the 2018/19 campaign the France international netted 16 times and provided 11 assists in all competitions – but he’s only scored two goals and made six assists since.
“He played in a very experienced, well set up team [at Juventus], with a lot of strong personalities and leaders,” added Meulensteen.
“That’s one thing United are lacking, leadership. He should be one of them but he isn’t, he isn’t a natural leader.
“You need to get him back where he can do most of the damage, which is between the lines and in the pockets. At the moment he is too often in areas where he gets crowded out.
Featured image credit: Getty