Manchester United legend Paul Scholes destroyed Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba live on television on Tuesday night by claiming the France international wasn’t good enough for the Red Devils.
However, it’s safe to say the retired midfielder had his tongue firmly in his cheek when uttering the following five words to his colleague Lee Dixon: “Well, he weren’t good enough!”
Dixon had, moments earlier, said to Scholes: “You forced [Pogba] out of Old Trafford when you came back and he left, didn’t you?”
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This was in reference to Scholes’ latest Independent column, in which the former England international wrote about Pogba prior to this week’s Champions League semi-final first leg between Juventus and Real Madrid in Turin.
Scholes feels he may have partly contributed towards Pogba eventually leaving Manchester United in the summer of 2012 due to his unexpected decision to come out of retirement months earlier.
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The moment Pogba decided to quit United
Scholes, a one-club man who will be remembered as one of the most gifted players United have ever produced, made a shock U-turn in January 2012 with the Red Devils seemingly short on midfield options.
In December 2011, the then-United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had used Rafael and Ji-Sung Park - a right-back and a hard-working winger - as a central midfield partnership during a 3-2 defeat to Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford.
Ferguson had overlooked Pogba that afternoon - and it’s understood that may have been the moment the classy French midfielder made up his mind to quit the Premier League giants.
Scholes: Pogba wasn't playing well enough
But Scholes feels Pogba - who is currently being linked with moves to the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Barcelona - simply wasn’t performing well enough for Manchester United’s Under-21 side to justify a place in Ferguson’s starting line-up.
“When I first retired in the summer of 2011, I spent the start of the next season working with Warren Joyce, the coach of the Under-21s,” Scholes wrote. “Paul was in that squad and the truth is that while he obviously had bags of potential, he was not really playing well enough in that period up to Christmas 2011 to warrant a place in the first-team squad on a permanent basis, let alone start games.”
Ferguson's big mistake
Ferguson’s failure to tie Pogba down to a long-term contract is now widely regarded as one of his biggest mistakes as Manchester United manager, but Scholes’ comments suggests it was difficult - if not impossible - to tell at the time whether the midfielder was capable of producing first-class performances on a weekly basis.
Pogba, who is now considered one of the world’s best central midfielders, missed Juve’s superb 2-1 win over Real Madrid on Tuesday night - but should return from injury in time for next week’s all-important second leg at the Bernabeu.
Was Paul Pogba good enough for the Manchester United first team back in 2012? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!