He has artistry, poise, power and finesse, so there really isn't much not to admire in Paul Pogba. John Nicholson has a new favourite player, and this is his ode...
Our Johnny has a bee in his bonnet about the demands of the elite to choose who they play. If he had it his way, there would be no seeding. It's just sanitised cheating...
This time last year David Moyes was collecting his first Manchester United trophy and United fans everywhere were busy telling us that he was the man to build a new United empire. Those who saw Moyes for the limited and self-evidently inappropriate choice he clearly was, knew it would end badly, but United fans wouldn't have it. They were blind to what most of us could see: the inappropriate track record, the lack of success and the fear in his eyes. When we said he'd turn them into Everton, the majority of United fans didn't believe us. They said we were just blindly bigoted against United, but with delicious irony, the lack of sight was in their own eyes. They stood, self-appointed in the role of being against the immediacy of the modern world; except they weren't and that was frankly a daft notion, anyway.
They wanted to give Moyes time. 'He needs at least 18 months,' one reader declared about 12 months ago. Imagine that. Moyes still in charge of United until after Christmas. Ridiculous. But, as many of us knew it would be, that was all forgotten as results nose-dived. Moyes should have been hounded out by outraged supporters by Christmas; only blind loyalty prevented that from being the case. They must take much of the blame for the failures in the second half of the season.
But that's the trouble with tribal loyalty to a football club - it blinds you to things which are obvious to outsiders. So many United fans totally misunderstood how inappropriate Moyes was. All they wanted to do was brand critics as ABUs and that shut down the validity of the criticism in their mind, but we were right and they were wrong and their humiliation was season-long, so it has understandably made them view success this season as unlikely. They fear embracing a new manager having had their blind faith abused so recently.
But it shouldn't.
Those seeing this season as a desperate scramble for fourth are underestimating their own side just as they over-estimated Moyes. They are once again blind to the realities. They have cause to know more than most just how quickly things can change in football. Just as their decline may have seemed unlikely 12 months ago, a climb back to the top now also seems equally unimaginable to many of them.
But it's not.
It shouldn't be forgotten that United played much worse than their par last year. Moyes wasn't just a poor manager in terms of training and tactics, he stripped the belief out of the club. Everything Moyes and his staff did was wrong. Don't let history be re-written, the side that Moyes inherited - while not the finest ever - was a damn good side. No side wins the league which isn't a damn good side. The wholesale destruction turned them from winners to losers, but they were not innately as bad as he'd made them. That seventh-place finish is fooling a lot of fans into thinking there is a much bigger climb back to the top than is the reality.
If you can go from first to seventh with largely the same squad, you can certainly go from seventh to first with an improved set of players, especially when lack of European football will prove a huge advantage later in the campaign. Liverpool almost did it last year without a defence. This United side is still substantially a title-winning side. That seems to be forgotten. Older players have been replaced, better players added. There are question marks in some areas, there always are, but the negativity that Moyes brought to the club will not be repeated now that a grown-up not imbued with awe and fear is at the helm.
United fans shouldn't let the same ridiculous, blinkered attitude that led them to believe Moyes was The Chosen One (and doesn't that still sound hilarious?), lead them to believe United have no chance of winning the title this year. That would be a big, big mistake. They're not coming from as far back as it would appear. United are viable title challengers this year just as they would have been last year if they had not taken any notice of the previous manager's daft notion to appoint someone who had never won a trophy. ABUs should take no comfort from last year. United, with Louis Van Gaal in charge are already back and make no mistake, they'll take some stopping.
John Nicholson - he's on Twitter
Nice sense of optimism, which I mostly share. However that defence can't be overlooked. Just 3 senior central defenders and planning to play 3 at the back. It doesn't take 'Arry to know that's down to the bare bones.- Mike_Christie