How Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handles Paul Pogba will determine expectations

There’s been a lot made of Paul Pogba recently. I laid out my thoughts on the matter last week.

Pogba is United’s best player by far. If he left the team would objectively be worse. He’s also being covered extremely unfairly by the media and the fans are seemingly trying to run him out of town. If he wants to leave because he’s being treated so terribly how could you blame him?

Ultimately none of that matters, the only thing that matters is how does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feel about him? The fans and media can hate on him for his social media posts, not dominating every facet of the game, or for being the first one down the tunnel all they want.

Solskjaer is on the inside. He knows why Pogba was struggling at the end of the season. He knows how much effort Pogba is giving. He knows how the other players look at him.

But ultimately, Solskjaer knows what kind of team he wants. He knows what kind of attitude he wants from his players.

The club has Pogba under contract until 2021. That makes this decision very simple. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to sit down with Pogba and lay everything on the table. United are going to be in the Europa League this year, possibly next year too. He needs to be on board with that.

This is going to be a rebuilding process, but it’s going to be rebuilt around Pogba. Offer him the captaincy (Metro is reporting Solskjaer plans to do this). We know he can be a leader, the entire French team said he was the leader in Russia last summer. Making him the official captain would force him to take on more responsibility and maturity. That’s probably not a bad thing.

If Pogba is ready to buy into all that great. Go ahead and give him a new contract too (though that’s complicated for other reasons).

If he’s not ready for that? That’s ok too. You’re basically asking him to give up his prime outside of the Champions League. That’s not an easy choice for someone to make, and if he doesn’t want to do it, let him leave.

Don’t be mistaken though. Letting Paul Pogba leave changes everything.

United are rebuilding. They’re still multiple years away from just competing for the Premier League title. With the right signings this year they could compete for fourth place, or entry to the Champions League through the Europa League. If they keep progressing they could compete for the league and even the Champions League in two or three years.

Remember, Liverpool finished eight in Jurgen Klopp’s first season. They then had back to back fourth place finishes before finally competing for the title this year.

Without Pogba that timeline changes. United will be unquestionably worse next year. Not only would they have to replace all the areas they already need to replace but they’d have to find a new engine as well. That won’t be easy.

Without Pogba United won’t be in contention for the top four next year. I wouldn’t fancy them to win the Europa League either. A two to three year rebuild will suddenly become four to five years.

If Solskjaer offloads Pogba management, the media, and the fans need to recognize that fact. Solskjaer will have to be given even more time.

Asking for this to happen is basically living in a dreamland of course. The fans that want Pogba out are the same fans who thought that if the board simply spent £60 million on Toby Alderweireld last summer as Jose Mourinho asked United would have competed for the league this year. Rebuilds don’t happen overnight.

The decision is Ole Solskjaer’s. If he chooses to get rid of Pogba, you better be prepared to be very patient with this United squad.

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