Back in September 2018, we were told by Neil Custis in The Sun that ‘it is the beginning of the end for Paul Pogba at Manchester United after latest collision with Jose Mourinho’. How long is the ‘end’? We’re now 18 months in and counting.
Here’s what Custis wrote way back when this incredibly elongated ‘end’ was just beginning:
‘You don’t question the boss, not one as good and powerful as Mourinho.
‘Now surely the exit door that was creaking open is now hanging off it’s hinges with Barcelona waiting to pounce.’
Even if we ignore the errant apostrophe, that was spectacularly wrong. Within three months, the exit door swung open and that ‘good and powerful’ boss was pushed out. A few months later, Pogba was named in the PFA Team of the Year.
Then in the summer, Custis was absolutely certain that Pogba was on his way out once again. And he was so sure that he went on talkSPORT in July and raved:
“Paul Pogba will go down as the most disliked Manchester United player of all time.
“Pogba and his agent have engineered a situation where it simply just can’t go on.
“Come the start of next season, if he’s in a Manchester United shirt, he’s going to be booed every time he touches the ball – and that’s by the home fans!”
That wasn’t really true, was it? What actually happened is that Pogba stayed at Manchester United, created two goals in the opening-day 4-0 win over Chelsea and absolutely was not booed by the home fans.
Or, as Custis himself wrote just a month after saying that “it simply can’t go on”:
‘Paul Pogba got his head down and got on with it and impressed Solskjaer with his attitude against a backdrop of uncertainty after he claimed he needed a new challenge.’
But since then, Pogba has got injured and – crucially – danced at weddings, while the wonderful Bruno Fernandes has come along to remind everyone what the Frenchman should have been. He probably never dances at all.
So what has Custis done? Repeatedly and ‘exclusively’ told us that Pogba’s Manchester United career is over, of course. Four times in 2020. He really is committed to that ‘end’.
‘PAUL POGBA’S Manchester United career is over with both player and club desperate for a parting of the ways’ – Neil Custis and Richard Moriarty, The Sun, January 3.
In that piece we were told that ‘United slapped a £180m price-tag on Pogba in the summer to scare off potential buyers. But things have changed since then and he could now leave for £100m.’
Remember that number.
‘MANCHESTER UNITED will let Paul Pogba leave in a cut-price deal this summer after finally signing Bruno Fernandes’ – Neil Custis, The Sun, January 30.
Now we are told that ‘United have an asking price of £150million but will no doubt be willing to drop it to get him out’.
Riiiight. So the timeline on the price has moved from £180m (summer) to £100m (early January) to £150m with a potential to go lower (late January).
‘PAUL POGBA has been given the green light to leave Manchester United’ – Neil Custis, The Sun, February 7.
It kind of sounded like he had already been ‘given the green light’ in January, fella. Twice.
So how much now? Well, ‘the fed-up Old Trafford hierarchy are now ready to sell him for £150million. They would have let him go last summer but a fee of £180m put off Real Madrid and Juventus.’
Riiiight. So the updated timeline on the price has moved from £180m (summer) to £100m (early January) to £150m with a potential to go lower (late January) and now to a seemingly bargain £150m (February).
And now here we are in March and Custis is back on the back page of The Sun again:
‘PAUL POGBA’S Manchester United career is over. Despite suggestions that a peace deal is being made, both sides want a splitting of the ways’ – Neil Custis, The Sun, March 19.
Presumably a ‘splitting of the ways’ is distinctly different from a ‘parting of the ways’.
And now what is the price? ‘Offers around £100million would see United move quickly to get a deal done for a player whose contract is up next summer.’
Wonderful. So the price has moved from £180m (summer) to £100m (early January) to £150m with a potential to go lower (late January) to a seemingly bargain £150m (February) and now to £100m again (March).
And still we suspect that we are only at the middle of the end.
Neil Custis accompanies his latest Paul Pogba exclusive with a piece in The Sun about the Frenchman and his unsuitability to Manchester United. Of course he does.
‘PAUL POGBA may have been given permission to rehabilitate from his ankle injury elsewhere during this season.
‘But his globetrotting is just not a good look.
‘Not when it is chucking it down in Manchester and all his team-mates are doing what they can to revive the fortunes of the club.
‘It would not be a surprise if he needed to load his Satnav to find Carrington again.’
Well your own newspaper website told us he was back at Carrington on February 21 after last playing on December 26, so we would be surprised if he got quite so confused in the intervening two months.
‘At the end of last season Pogba did not believe Solskjaer and United would win more titles to add to his four in Serie A.’
Well he was right. They are fifth with a points total that would usually put them in seventh or eighth.
‘Indeed, even if the season started again tomorrow why would Solskjaer want to put Pogba back in the team?
‘What have they lost in his absence? Bruno Fernandes is the main man now.
‘Nemanja Matic is in his best form since joining the club and has earned a contract extension because of that.
‘Fred is now the £50million Brazilian United fans were waiting for.’
Woah woah woah. Even if we all agree that Pogba would not walk back into this United side, let’s not get silly here. Fred is not ‘now the £50million Brazilian United fans were waiting for’; he is just now giving United fans hope that they only overpaid by about £20m.
And to end…this. Presumably a press release from Manchester United and we have been inexplicably left off the mailing list:
‘Solskjaer has a very clear plan about the way forward, backed by chief Ed Woodward.
‘It involves young, hungry players who want to make their names at United.
‘It does not mean they don’t want to keep spending which is finally being done wisely with the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James, Harry Maguire and now Fernandes.
‘They all have that ‘humility’ Solskjaer wants and a full focus on what they can do for the team.
‘Pogba does not fit the model. Solskjaer knew that last summer.’
Risk the wrath
We’re not saying Paul Pogba is an easy target but…
‘Paul Pogba risks the wrath of Man United fans by training in a Juventus shirt as he continues injury rehab with Victor Lindelof… but injured star insists jersey is in support of coronavirus-stricken Blaise Matuidi’ – MailOnline.
Spot the join after the hasty update.
There is still some football taking place, with the Australian A-League in action. Stick on a bet with Bet365 and you can actually watch it and get your fix. We fancy Central Coast Mariners.