Gary Neville summed up one of the most glaring problems facing Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with his puzzling comments on Paul Pogba’s best position
Gary Neville named Paul Pogba in central midfield as he picked his first-choice Manchester United starting XI – seconds after claiming the left wing is the “only place” for the Frenchman.
Pogba, 28, has spent the majority of the season on the flank to good effect, picking up five Premier League assists in four games in the role.
But the World Cup winner is a natural central-midfielder and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also turns to him to form the double pivot regularly.
While Neville claims Pogba is more suited to playing on the left, he could only fit him into his best XI by deploying him in a deeper role.
Asked on Twitter to pick his starting line-up assuming every United player is fit, Neville picked a 4-2-1-3 system: David de Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba; Bruno Fernandes; Mason Greenwood, Edinson Cavani, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The former United defender picked his team one minute after replying to a question asking for his thoughts on Pogba as a left-winger.
Neville replied: “Only place he’s likely to be put in this united team. He’s ok there.”
Neville’s confusing stance on Pogba sums up one of the main challenges facing Solskjaer.
The Red Devils boss does not appear to know his best starting XI and he is yet to settle on a midfield pairing which has a balance of creativity and defensive solidity.
United are more threatening when Pogba plays in a deeper position instead of Fred or Scott McTominay, but Solskjaer does not appear to trust the France international in such a role in bigger games.
What is Paul Pogba’s best position? Have your say in the comments.
Neville’s old adversary and fellow pundit Jamie Carragher was keen to point out his contrasting messages over Pogba as he picked holes in his best starting XI.
Carragher tweeted: “So is Pogba not a left winger anymore, Gary Neville? The right winger you said the club were desperate for doesn’t play & you’ve got Ronaldo wide.”
The right-winger Carragher is alluding to is Jadon Sancho, who arrived from Borussia Dortmund for £73million this summer.
The England international lit up the Bundesliga for multiple seasons but has failed to replicate that form in the Premier League.
Sancho is still waiting for his first goal or assist in United colours and he was an unused substitute as the Red Devils fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa on Saturday.
Carragher also seemed to take issue with playing Ronaldo – very much a centre-forward at this stage of his career – out wide instead of Pogba.