The former Red Devils defender believes too many players have let the club down this season, while a departed boss has seen his motives questioned
Paul Pogba “owes a debt to Manchester United”, says Paul McGrath, with a World Cup winner needing to prove that he can be relied upon.
Having starred for France en route to securing global glory over the summer, the 25-year-old midfielder has suffered something of a domestic hangover.
His form and working relationship with Jose Mourinho provided an unwelcome distraction at Old Trafford during a difficult start to the 2018-19 campaign.
Pogba has now been freed from the shackles of the Portuguese boss, with United taking the decision to start afresh in the dugout, but he still has to convince his critics that he can be an elite Premier League performer.
Former Red Devils defender McGrath told the Irish Independent: “I don’t like having a straight-out go at a lad who is still actually a young footballer – but Paul Pogba now owes a debt to Manchester United.
“He’s a world champion. And I’m sorry, but it is not as simple as saying that with France last summer he was surrounded by class acts with who it was easy to play – Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi and Raphael Varane, etc.
“It doesn’t matter who you are playing with. I saw Paul Pogba chasing back, heading balls out of his own penalty area, tackling, covering, grafting, when France were under real pressure protecting a 1-0 against Belgium in the World Cup semi-final.
“That was nothing to do with the quality of his team-mates. It was Pogba wanting to be the best player and team-mate he could be, to be a winner, not the player of the last two months at Manchester United.”
While singling out Pogba as part of the problem for United of late, McGrath feels two other high-profile additions have done little to aid the collective cause.
He added: “Pogba is not alone in not producing his best. There are others.
“Cynics say Jose Mourinho only bought both Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to stop Chelsea and Manchester City getting their hands on the players.
“There’s a grain of truth in that about Sanchez for sure, and Pep Guardiola must be thinking ‘what an escape that was’ when he considers the outlay the Chilean international would have cost his club.
“As for Lukaku, I’m not so sure. What I wonder about him is that his style is not best suited to a rigid, slow, possession-based game that Mourinho favoured. Why did he buy him?
“Lukaku is about power and putting himself about and disrupting defences. Mourinho wanted his players to play around those defences, not through them! What did he want the big Belgian to do?”
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McGrath is not convinced that Mourinho was ever really sure of what he wanted to achieve at Old Trafford, with a move to United merely intended to add another notable entry on an impressive CV.
The Irishman added: “As Jose has left Manchester United now, I’m wondering if being manager of the club was just something he wanted to do, to put this great club on his resume with Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, etc.
“And if that’s the case then maybe we have got to the heart of the problem. Manchester United is not like that.
“It’s something special, a club with a wonderful heart and soul and special place in the lives of its staff and supporters.”