Gary Neville lavished praise on Paul Pogba after Manchester United’s victory over Leicester, but suggests the Frenchman’s partnership with Ander Herrera will be tested in the coming weeks.
Pogba produced his best performance since rejoining United in a world-record transfer from Juventus in the 4-1 win over the reigning champions, as discussed in our 16 conclusions.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said: “Pogba was instrumental in that first half. We look at the scrutiny on Wayne Rooney, but a lot of people are saying that for £90m on a central midfield player, you have to influence the game. Today he did.
“The first half he was the best player on the pitch. In the first half, he seemed more determined, like Mourinho had told him to sprint back and win the ball. I think he’s had a bit of a wake-up call in the week.
“It was an all-round performance. It is the best I’ve seen him. If you think about what you want your midfield player to do for £90m, you want him to pass well, come forward, be a threat in the box, be dynamic, sprint back and be a force defensively.
“All the facets of what would be an all-round midfield player, he’s one of those rare midfield players who can do most things, and today we saw a big influence on the game.”
With Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini dropped, Ander Herrera partnered Pogba in central midfield, and impressed once more after a promising display in midweek.
However, Neville believes the duo’s suitability as a partnership is yet to be tested.
He added: “Today it worked. It’s too early to say, I don’t think Mourinho will look at that performance and think Pogba and Herrera are his midfield two for Manchester City at home, or Liverpool away or Chelsea away, they still have to build up that trust to him, to us, the crowd, that they are good enough to play in these big matches.
“United have got three games in the next six that are against Chelsea, Liverpool and City. In those games Pogba and Herrera, if they are going to play together, can they then go and deliver in the bigger games and against the better opposition? When you’ve got Coutinho playing in the hole and pockets behind you, you’ve got Silva, De Bruyne, Hazard, Oscar and players like that.
“That’s when the ultimate test will come. But it’s a good start for them today. They took their opportunities.”