DANNY MURPHY: Pogba is a defensive problem for Solskjaer

DANNY MURPHY: Paul Pogba is a defensive problem for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer… Manchester United will continue to ship goals if he and Bruno Fernandes continue to start in the same line-up

  • Man United will continue to ship goals with Pogba and Fernandes in same line-up
  • Neither is good enough defensively to play together in a three-man midfield
  • The duo were repeatedly caught out against Brighton in the dramatic 3-2 win 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a big decision to make because Manchester United will continue to ship goals if he keeps on naming Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in the same line-up.

Excellent creative players as they are, neither is good enough defensively to play together in a three-man midfield.

That is certainly the case against any of the Big Six and on Saturday they were repeatedly caught out against Brighton. 

Paul Pogba has become a defensive problem for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United

United will continue to ship goals with both Pogba and Fernandes in the same line-up

Their deficiencies put Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw under an enormous amount of pressure because they were constantly caught between following the Brighton wing-backs and the wide forwards.

Compare that to Liverpool, where Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson can bomb forward whenever they like because of the savvy of Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum covering from midfield. 

It is not laziness on Bruno or Pogba’s part, it is just an aspect of their game that defensively they are reactive rather than proactive. They just do not spot or sense danger quickly enough. By the time they realise they need to get back, it is too late.

Pogba’s challenge on Aaron Connolly in the area was overturned but he was still exposed

Bruno gave away a penalty and let Solly March go for Brighton’s second goal.

Pogba’s challenge on Aaron Connolly in the area was overturned by VAR, correctly, but he was still behind play and liable to be exposed.

I think it is significant that United have signed Donny van de Beek from Ajax. He has got more energy and is more of a genuine box-to-box player than Pogba or Bruno. 

I think once he is fully integrated into the United set-up, he starts with a more orthodox holding midfield player and that leaves one spot left for the two glamour players, unless you are up against a weaker team at Old Trafford without much attacking threat.

Over the past few months, I have to say Bruno has been more influential in an attacking sense than Pogba, so I do not know where that leaves the Frenchman, who has been substituted just over an hour into both United’s Premier League games.

Of course, there is a caveat that Pogba tested positive for Covid in the build-up to the season so maybe he is behind others in terms of fitness. When he is 100 per cent, we have seen him win the World Cup alongside N’Golo Kante.

Right now, he looks a long way off and Solskjaer will have plenty of thinking to do because United have conceded five goals in total against Crystal Palace and Brighton.

They were fortunate to win on Saturday, given that Brighton kept hitting the woodwork and the winning penalty came after the final whistle had blown.




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