Brennan's Brief United's superb victory in Paris must have been bitter-sweet for Pogba and van de Beek
For two Manchester United players, last night’s superb victory over PSG in Paris must have been bitter-sweet.
United were excellent. Wearing a kit that made them look like zebras, the Red Devils were quick, lithe and hugely impressive as they got the better of a team that reached the 2019/20 Final, played less than two months ago.
But, both Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek, must wonder what they are doing at the English club.
You can’t argue with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s choice to leave both out of the starting XI, only bringing on Pogba with barely 20 minutes to go and van der Beek minutes before the final whistle.
Pogba was playing, or should have been playing, in the capital of his country. He’s a French World Cup winner from two-and-a-half years ago and ought to be in the prime of his career. Instead, Solskjaer just said, “no, we’ll be grand without you”.
While playing with France, Pogba has had the luxury of having N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi as the midfield minders behind him. He had the flying Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe ahead of him – for Les Bleus, all Pogba has to do is play as a clever linkman between them. And he is good at it, very good, as France conquered the world.
But we’ve learned since, that the Gallic midfielder can’t play as a defensive minder, nor is he an out-and-out attacker - he is truly something in between. But United’s battle plan doesn’t necessarily need a player like that.
And then there's the Donny van de Beek conundrum.
Did anyone in the Old Trafford hierarchy ask Solskjaer if he wanted the former Ajax starlet? Solskjaer just keeps bringing this lad on for ten minutes here, 20 minutes there since he arrived in Manchester.
I remember Giovanni Trapattoni shooting the breeze with Irish football journalists about players being landed on top of him when he was the Juventus boss.
Do you remember the ‘Galacticos’ era at Real Madrid when they just signed the best player in the world every year for about four years because the club President wanted him? The coach was just told to get on with it, oh, and to make sure they played.
It seems a bit like that with Solskjaer, he has this young Dutch talent that he cannot figure out how to use best.
So, Manchester United are good enough to beat a really serious Champions League team without two top players. No pressure then Ole, with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk out for the season, the Premier League title is wide open. Go get it. If you can win this game, you can win in England.