I have a vague suspicion that in some far, far recess of my memory banks there is a recollection of a time when Paul Pogba wasn’t being linked daily to Manchester United.
He was a French footballer and they were an English club and one wasn’t chasing the other with the relentlessness of a stalker having gobbled a big bag of stalker pills. They were once separate entities right? That was once a thing?
Or maybe not. Maybe I’m like Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four clinging to the nostalgic notions of a false yesterday, before the back pages and timelines were dominated exclusively by talk of a record transfer fee and think-pieces on how Pogba would vastly improve United’s set-up but then there’s his greedy agent and there’s Real Madrid to consider too but what about his barber and what he put on Instagram AND there was that pic of Mourinho’s tactics board but hang on Juventus aren’t selling and it’s all off but wait it’s back on and it’s a DONE DEAL but not really, not yet, and Pogba wants this but his agent wants that and Juventus want the entire world to burn while they laugh like Bond baddies then there’s United, always there, gurning on stalker pills and slowing rubbing their nipples made of pure gold to entice the midfield star.
If every word was collated on this summer’s designated transfer saga it would make the Chilcot Report seem like a light read: an A7-sized pamphlet you digest to pass the time while the kettle boils for your lunchtime Pot Noodle. Whereas the Pogba Saga would require an entire rainforest to be decimated just to publish one copy.
Which is quite odd really when you consider that from all these millions upon billions of words written on the subject of a club wanting to sign a player less than one per cent originate from a main protagonist. Sure there have been back-channel leaks to trusted journos and the like but at no point has the player himself revealed where he wants his future to lie. Nor have Manchester United officially stated their intentions. Instead an oppressive industry of innuendo has been amassed, built on tenuous knowledge to begin then then rehashed endlessly by a multitude of bedroom bloggers.
This week Jose Mourinho gave the clearest indication yet that United’s interest was real and that a transfer record fee in excess of one hundred million pounds was imminent. He said, “You have smoke, you have fire”. That’s where we’re currently at with proceedings. No approach. No bid. Just a manager intimating that the rumours were true and their interest was genuine.
Which begs the question: if that’s where we are currently at what the hell have all those endless media-suffocating avalanche of articles written by European football experts and hacks been about? What is their sum worth and why have we had our summer Pogba’d to death in the most boring transfer saga since forever, a protracted affair that reduces last year’s chase of John Stones by Chelsea to “Hey John do you wanna sign for….you don’t? Ah okay fella. All the best then”.
If we’re only at the stage where things are officially warming up then half of Britain’s football scribes are guilty of colossally wasting our time thus far and should be punished accordingly by being tied to a chair and have some intern wearing a hipster footy top say ‘Pogba, Pogba, Pogba, Pogba, Pogba, Pogba, Pogba, Pogba, Pogba…’ over and over again right into their smug faces.
See how they f***ing like it.
I have just returned to my laptop after calming down a bit. And while calming down I experienced something of a revelation. A spark in the old noggin. I am sure now that there was a time when Paul Pogba wasn’t being linked to Manchester United for £100m each and every day. I just can’t prove it is all.
Moreso there was another thought, one so barmy I daren’t make public for fear of being locked up for my own safety. Okay, well, I’ve come this far. What have I got to lose?
Whilst turning off all my gadgets – to avoid seeing Pogba’s face for five f***ing minutes – I recalled a heady time when the midfielder played for the Serie A champions and Manchester United were, well a bit rubbish, but at least when they wanted to sign a player they would put in a bid, haggle a bit, then shortly after would have that player stand on the Old Trafford turf holding aloft a club shirt in front of a phalanx of photographers.
But before then – ah, this is going to sound so crazy-weird – but there is a flicker of an image in some forgotten folder in a filing cabinet at the rear of the warehouse of my mind of Paul Pogba actually playing for United previously.
This cannot be true I know. It would mean the Ministry of Truth has lied to us all: That Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t a great manager blessed with an exceptional eye for talent who zealously brought through youth. That he instead flogged the future most expensive player on the planet in favour of retaining Tom Cleverley.
Plus if that WERE the case – and surely it’s not; surely it’s a trick of a fragile mind – then we would not be presently under a deluge of straightforward reporting on a drawn-out transfer. United would be under a deluge of ridicule for selling a midfielder for £800,000 then splurging 120 times that four years later to bring him back.
Certainly if that were Liverpool or Manchester City or Arsenal that would be the narrative; a mixture of scorn and mockery at their ruining of football and reducing it to farce. And all clubs are created equal aren’t they? Or perhaps some are more equal than others?
I don’t know anymore. This Pogba marathon has worn me down with utter ennui and mushed up my faculties to the point of insanity. Maybe the truth lies elsewhere? That Paul Pogba doesn’t actually exist and he is a creation of Big Brother to distract the football world during a summer where the British government is being taken over by unelected lizards and Donald Trump becomes a forerunner for President across the Atlantic as the world prepares for a nuclear war that will eradicate all but the illuminati.
Or perhaps he will sign this week. Right now I’m not sure which is the more plausible.