Frank Lampard believes Jose Mourinho has to find a way of getting Paul Pogba closer to the opposition box if the Manchester United record signing is ever to become “a game-changer”.
Pogba – our early loser of the week – failed to impress again at the weekend, following up his poor display in the EFL Cup final with an erratic performance in the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth.
The 23-year-old has been used in a variety of positions this season but former Chelsea and England midfielder Lampard believes Pogba needs to be given a focus.
“It was a signal of their intentions to spend £90m on player who I wouldn’t say is the finished article,” he said on Monday Night Football. “He’s got fantastic attributes. He’s strong, he’s got great feet, he’s bigger than you and he’s quicker than you as a midfield player.
“But when you have a £90m price-tag on your shoulders, we analyse more and we want more. I’m still wondering, what’s his best position? What kind of player is he? What does he want to be?
“I feel a little bit like he has fallen in between everything. When you pay £90m you want to see results, and he hasn’t quite delivered. He’s young and he possibly will do, but as it stands he hasn’t been a game-changer.
“The problem he has is all of our perceptions. Who would you pay £90m or £100m for? Suarez, Ronaldo, Messi. They bring 40 to 50 goals a season. They win games on their own week in, week out. We don’t know that Paul Pogba can do that yet, but he’s being judged on it.
“We need to give him time. We need to flip forward to next season and see if he’s improving his game. But at some stage he has to be that dominant midfield player because I do believe that’s in him. The problem for me is that if you spend £90m, you don’t want a £90m problem.”
Pogba has initially employed by Mourinho as a deep-lying midfielder, alongside Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera or even Marouane Fellaini. The France star was then shifted further forward, but Mourinho has moved him back in recent weeks. Given how Pogba struggled in the role before, especially in September’s derby defeat to Manchester City, Jamie Carragher cannot understand the move.
“Six months later nothing has changed. He’s still nowhere near good enough or disciplined enough to play in that central midfield role.
“He’s a liability defensively, there’s no doubt about that. They should have lost the EFL Cup final. Against one of the top sides I think they would have lost that game and Pogba was one of the reasons why.”
Lampard agrees Mourinho has “a problem”.
He added: “Pogba’s responsibility there has to be more defensively-minded. I think when Mourinho is playing a two, he wants them to defend. He wants their first thought to be security. I feel harsh criticising him because I don’t think it’s his real attribute to do that. I feel Jose Mourinho would want a holding midfield player to be doing that job.
“You do see a link between him and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and he’s trying those long passes, but my question is how much do you want him in that deep role spraying balls? If you want him to be like Scholes in his latter years, spreading balls from midfield, is that the job for a £90m player?
“Pogba has the ability to score and create goals, but from the position he’s in, it’s a long way to go. If he’s not close enough, he’s not going to get numbers as high as he should. It’s a problem for Manchester United and a problem for Jose Mourinho.”