Mediawatch: A bizarre attack on ‘very poor’ Paul Pogba

Date published: Wednesday 6th December 2017 12:03


Now then. That’s some *award-winning* tit who runs an *award-winning* blog, Stanley Victor.

‘Absolute idiocy’ is a fair call, mind.


Chop Souey
As a man who was asked in January to choose his combined Liverpool and Manchester United XI and came up with this…

…Graeme Souness has cultivated a reputation as a pundit who does not like Paul Pogba. Jordan Henderson and Michael Carrick are clearly better than the third-most expensive player ever, after all.

The Liverpool legend was asked to address the situation on Irish television channel TV3 on Tuesday, and grabbed the opportunity with both hands:

“When he is on the ball, there’s lots of things to admire. He’s powerful, he’s got good technique, he can wrong foot people, he can ping the ball.

“Where I question him, whether he’ll ever be a top player, is his understanding of the game.

“You’ve spent €100m on a player and you’re going to accept he can only do certain things that a midfield player should do?

“For €100m you’re buying someone that a) has to make the difference in the big games. He’s yet to do that. He’s not got a game by the scruff of the neck and been a dominant force and made the difference in a really big game yet for me.”

Except for when he was excellent in a 3-1 win over Arsenal five days ago, assisting two goals.

Souness did not offer a b), instead saying that “for €100m, you’re buying the finished article, someone that is completely going to dominate the big games and win you the big games”.

Or you’re buying a really, really talented 23-year-old who is really, really good, and still yet to actually reach his peak as a footballer. Maybe that one.

When it was put to Souness and fellow exasperated pundit Neil Lennon that for all his faults in defence, Pogba is influential in attack, both were incredulous.

“I didn’t see that tonight,” Lennon replied, of a player who had just assisted one goal in a 2-1 victory. “You compare Pogba to Paul Scholes in terms of goals and assists, running of a game, and it’s night and day. He’s got no tactical discipline on the pitch.”

Because Scholes and Pogba definitely played in sides of similar standards, and Scholes was famously charged with protecting a defence of Daley Blind, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof. How dare Pogba be not as good as one of the best Premier League midfielders ever at the age of 24, and when partnered with Ander Herrera?

Lennon then adds that Pogba “has to play in a three” because he “cannot play in a two”. “I only think he can play in a three, the way he’s playing at the minute.”

Pesky fact: Pogba has started in a two-man central midfield seven times in the Premier League this season. United have won each of those games with an aggregate score of 22-4.

By the end of the five-minute onslaught, Souness is done playing games. “Forgive me, forgive me when you say ‘there’s so much [that he does] at the other end of the pitch’. How many goals has he scored this year?”

Three in all competitions, having missed two months through injury. Five United players have scored more; each play further up the pitch.

Put to him that his tally of assists was rather more impressive – six in all competitions is the most of any United player – Souness was apoplectic.

“Playing for Man United? You think that’s enough? I would say that’s very poor.”

Yeah, contributing to nine goals in 12 games this season is shoddy, Paul. “Very poor” indeed.

But the final straw came when the host continued his defence of Pogba, saying that “if you look at the games for which he was absent…”

Souness and Lennon then go in two-footed, like any good central midfielder worth his bloody salt.

“No, no, no, no, no. You can’t judge him when he’s absent. You can’t judge him when he’s absent,” says Souness. “We looked through the stats with him in the team and without – there wasn’t much difference,” Lennon adds.

United’s Premier/Champions League record when Pogba starts this season: P11 W9 D1 L1 F29 A8
United’s Premier/Champions League record when Pogba does not start: P10 W7 D1 L2 F18 A4

So United win more, lose less and score more, but concede fewer goals when Pogba does not start? Not good enough for Souey or Neil.

Mediawatch is left with just one question. How has Jose Mourinho not dropped Pogba yet?


Messi business
‘Poch dig at ‘Messi” reads the headline in The Sun, which most certainly catches the eye. What could the manager of Tottenham possibly have to say about a Barcelona forward?

‘Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has snubbed the kid winger he dubbed a mini-Messi,’ writes Mark Irwin. Ah, so nothing to do with our Lionel then.

Also, is Pochettino admitting that he himself “made a mistake” by comparing Marcus Edwards to a young Messi really a ‘dig’ at the ‘kid winger’?

The answer is no.


Free Willie
Gary Lineker courted controversy earlier in the week by claiming that doping does not occur in football, or at the very least that it is not rife. The pundit’s views came in the aftermath of Russia being removed from the upcoming Winter Olympics over state-sponsored doping.

The pundit has since admitted himself the comments may be “naive”, and the initial tweet has been deleted as it “wasn’t worded well”.

But the debate rages on into another day, and Lineker and Daily Mail journalist Matt Lawton engaged in some healthy discussion on Wednesday. Both made fair points and fought their ground, and all was relatively good-natured.

That is until Neil Custis gatecrashed the conversation and brought up the only subject worthy of discussion: the plight of Willie Thorne.

Keep fighting the good fight, Neil.


Johnny English

But not four, which is the sum total of Englishmen in the Premier League’s current top ten goalscorers this season.

An Englishman also won the Premier League’s Golden Boot in both of the last two seasons. Did Harry Kane ask who Stan Collymore was in a press conference recently?


Turkish delight
Headline on the back page of The Times:

‘Chelsea may get Barcelona after slip-up’

Or Besiktas. Swings and roundabouts.


Recommended reading of the day
Adam Bate on the making of Leroy Sane.

Rich Laverty talks to the English teenager testing herself at Fiorentina.

Samindra Kunti interviews Nigel Pearson.


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