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Paul Pogba.

Why Paul Pogba's critics could be made to look foolish

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After one of the most memorable transfer sagas in recent history finally ended with Paul Pogba's world record £89 million move to Manchester United, it is fair to say the Frenchman's start to life at Old Trafford hasn't been all plain sailing.

The 23-year-old midfielder has been accused of failing to live up to the hype and letting games pass him by thus far. A point that was strongly made by fans - both of United and other clubs - during the Red Devils' lacklustre 1-0 defeat to Feyenoord on Thursday night.

However, is it really fair to criticise Pogba this much so early in his second stint in Manchester? Looking at his individual highlights from last night's Europa League game, and taking into account other factors surrounding the first few weeks of the season, we should actually be cutting him some slack.

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In truth, nobody in a Manchester United shirt was on top form in Holland on Thursday. But Paul Pogba was far from the biggest let down as Jose Mourinho's side suffered a second straight defeat.

Indeed, stepping away from the abuse the midfielder is receiving on social media, the footage of his individual performance vs Feyenoord offers plenty of reason to be excited for the future.

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The video shows several examples of exactly why Pogba was valued so highly this summer. His strength to muscle past opponents in a congested midfield (2:15), combined with the occasional galloping run with the ball at his feet (4:46) and several passes showcasing his range, suggest United fans shouldn't be too concerned.

According to WhoScored, Pogba also had the second most touches of the ball amongst United players with 90 and still completed an impressive 86.2 percent of his passes.

Obviously, fans at Old Trafford are expecting more from their big money signing than efficient passing and an occasional long-range shot and, after a disappointing display in the Manchester derby, you can understand their frustration.

Feyenoord v Manchester United FC - UEFA Europa League

However, it is important to remember that the Frenchman only joined United on August 9. Before that, he had essentially had a month-long holiday after his Euro 2016 exploits and no pre-season to speak of.

While the majority of players had a full month of conditioning and offseason preparation with their teammates, Pogba is effectively just coming to the end of his own pre-season.

Even the best players in the world need time to settle and get back into the swing of things after a lengthy lay off. Now just over one month into his time at Old Trafford, Pogba is more than likely on the verge of getting up to full speed and hitting full stride.

Feyenoord v Manchester United FC - UEFA Europa League

Despite lagging behind his teammates in terms of preparation, the 23-year-old actually ranks highest amongst the United squad in terms of player ratings on WhoScored - averaging 7.83 in the Premier League thus far.

If right now we are seeing Pogba at his worst, it is actually a pretty exciting floor for the former Juventus star.

With fixtures coming up against Watford, Leicester, Stoke City and Zorya, the next few weeks will tell us a lot more about who Pogba can be in a United shirt that the last few games.

In an ideal world he would have hit the ground running but circumstances don't always allow that. However, by the time the Red Devils play their fierce rivals Liverpool on October 17 we wouldn't bet against Paul Pogba putting in a Man of the Match performance. 

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Topics:
Wayne Rooney
Paul Pogba
Football
Premier League
Paul Scholes
Manchester United
UEFA Champions League
David de Gea

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