Being stuck in the reserves whilst Michael Carrick continues to get a game in the first team is enough to test anybody’s patience and if rumours emanating from the Paul Pogba camp are to be believed, the talented 18-year-old is set to call time on his Manchester United career when his contract expires next summer.
Despite being lauded as one answer to the Red Devils’ midfield problems, Pogba has found appearances at Old Trafford hard to come by this term. A pair of substitute run-outs in the Carling Cup is all the former Le Havre trainee has been granted so far and with further chances looking sparse a number of suitors are said to be waiting in the wings.
Nostradamus never did try his hand at writing football gossip columns so take what you will from various sources suggesting Arsenal, Juventus, AC and Inter Milan are all keen to add the French under-19 international to their squads.
Given the nominal fee Pogba’s signature would cost and relatively cheap wages he could command, his acquisition would be a low-risk bit of business for anybody so it’s no wonder the midfielder is being courted across the continent.
The conundrum player and club must get right though, is would Pogba be better off remaining at Manchester United?
Even given his limited exposure to first-team football there would be few at Old Trafford prepared to let him go. Pogba was instrumental in helping United’s youth team win the FA youth cup last season and he has long established himself as a key member of the second string.
During the summer Sir Alex Ferguson overtly mentioned Pogba as one of the latest batch of academy graduates he was seeking to integrate into the side, and although that promotion has hardly been forthcoming, all involved recognise Pogba’s natural talent and athleticism mark him out as a potential incumbent into the United side.
Whilst United are not generally in the habit of stockpiling resource for the sake of it, they have been scorched on a number of occasions in the past when letting players go prematurely.
Giuseppe Rossi and Gerard Pique would both arguably get in the team now but both would cost tenfold the fees they were released for. A Hat-trick with Pogba would not go down well.
Of course, the party line from Carrington would be that a player who does not turn nineteen until next March should bide his time and serve his apprenticeship with an institute who have a long and proven track record of developing from within – and they’d be right.
Pogba’s head may have already been turned by the lure of match minutes and money but if he had the inclination to ask Phil Jones, Chris Smalling Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez or Wayne Rooney what to do, he’d still be a red this time next year.
Tales of how Sir Alex Ferguson develops young players is well trodden and one which doesn’t need retelling in the aftermath of his silver jubilee celebrations, but there is a reason the Scot has continually evolved side after side, and that is because he frequently gets the blend right within his squad of youth and experience.
The expectations placed upon the next big things can be overwhelming and often misguided – especially at clubs of the size and stature of United – yet Ferguson has the experience and understanding of how, when and where to involve players for future gains.
Simply playing as much football as you can, as soon as you can is a methodology which has more failure’s than successes and Pogba would be unwise to think that this approach would automatically suit him in the long run.
The number of starlet’s who break into established teams at such tender ages are increasingly rare and more players are now going through and induction progress of lesser cup ties and league games mixed in with loan spells in order to evolve to the the nuances of senior football regardless of any inherent technical skills.
At United, Pogba is cherished within such an environment and personnel around him to inch out his maturity for maximum benefit over a slightly more prolonged period of time.
However, the differences in mentality of player and manager only serves as a metaphor between generation and tradition with Pogba wanting cash and a quick fix whilst Ferguson is religiously well versed in the virtues of patience.
Pogba can sign a pre-contract agreement from January onwards so time is not on United’s side to convince their starlet to stay, but no convincing should need to be done – with only a handful of exceptions they say the only way is down after leaving Manchester United.
Follow John Baines on twitter @bainesyDiego10
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