Paul Pogba is back in business for Manchester United.
Having missed great swathes of the winter period through injury, the French maestro has returned to United‘s midfield with exactly the type of form that sees him touted as one of the world’s most gifted players.
It’s no secret that Pogba hasn’t been able to produce the consistent world-class form that the Old Trafford faithful have been calling for since his return to the club, but there’s simply no denying his ability.
Pogba’s impact on Man Utd
As such, whenever Pogba is on song and playing his best football, the opposition should probably just wave a white flag from the first minute because the 28-year-old can be simply unstoppable.
And while Pogba’s most recent performances haven’t quite been at his world-beating best, you could just tell that his return to the fold under Ralf Rangnick gave such a boost to United’s creative engine.
Even when the Red Devils simply aren’t clicking in their offensive transitions, which has so often been the case in recent seasons, you can at least find solace in the fact that Pogba could always pull a rabbit out of the hat.
The creative prowess of Pogba
Whether that’s a gorgeous first touch with hints of Zinedine Zidane about it or one of the greatest diagonal passes you’ve ever seen, Pogba always has it within him to produce something truly spectacular.
And the sheer intelligence of Pogba’s playmaking was there to be seen during United’s Premier League win over Brighton & Hove Albion last week.
Not only did his quick-thinking lead to an assist for Bruno Fernandes, but Pogba’s ability to orchestrate the very nature of United’s build-up play during the game has been fantastically highlighted on Twitter.
Twitter thread on Pogba’s playmaking
User @UtdArena has created a viral thread that uses an example from the Brighton match to show how the genius in Pogba’s playmaking is not just in his passing, but also in his ability to manipulate defences.
The fascinating analysis shows how Pogba helped to posture Luke Shaw and Jadon Sancho in a way that discombobulated Brighton’s defensive set-up, ultimately leading to United breaking into space in the penalty area.
However, we couldn’t possibly describe the point and example as well as the person behind the Twitter thread itself, so be sure to bask in by Pogba’s brilliance by reading the full breakdown right here:
Thread:— UtdArena (@UtdArena) February 22, 2022
Switching play is a common pass in football but they are not all equal. Some players have superior playmaking abilities that make their switches far more valuable than average.
Paul Pogba demonstrated this skilfully in a recent game. pic.twitter.com/hRjz75Z0dz
Initially, Pogba looks out to the left and sees Shaw moving forward. He then tells Sancho to move onto the inside which the latter does.— UtdArena (@UtdArena) February 22, 2022
The intention is to shift Brighton’s wing defence onto the inside by getting them to focus on Sancho, a decoy, so Shaw can remain unchecked. pic.twitter.com/GDCplnPzYu
Pogba turns sharply to the right which gives Brighton the impression that the ball will be progressed on that side. They begin to shift over as a result.— UtdArena (@UtdArena) February 22, 2022
He feints a pass to Sancho, forcing Brighton to drop a little deeper and then he continues his initial plan. pic.twitter.com/mBxIHwGY5B
He plays it out to the right wing and with Welbeck tracking back and Brighton a man down, their mid-low block is centred as shown below.— UtdArena (@UtdArena) February 22, 2022
Pogba then spends the next three seconds scanning at Shaw as well as the offensive line in order to keep his options open. pic.twitter.com/mIMA0olohl
He receives possession and then switches it to Shaw who has a lot of space to both receive and cross.— UtdArena (@UtdArena) February 22, 2022
United end up with three runners in the box as a result of Brighton’s positional chaos in having to circle around to Shaw who is in a high value zone. pic.twitter.com/zQ4EZUKHaw
It’s almost like he’s a World Cup winner or something…
The intelligence of Pogba’s play
The brilliant analysis really helps to highlight how just the subtlest pieces of communication and advice can help playmakers to influence the opposition’s defence in a way that helps them to create big chances.
Plus, the broader point that every good playmaker is a good passer, but not every good passer is a good playmaker is a fabulous way of articulating how much intelligence players need to have to reach Pogba’s level.
Of course, the United midfielder most certainly isn’t the only player pulling the strings at such an elite level in the men’s game, but there’s no escaping the fact that he’s up there with the very best.
Sadly, it’s looking increasingly likely that the former Juventus man will be waving goodbye to Old Trafford in the summer and who knows, maybe that’s the best settlement for both parties.
However, inconsistent or not, you’d be barmy not to think that Pogba leaving United doesn’t blow a massive hole in their creative resources because the man offers playmaking gold if nothing else.