There are very few times that Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision making should be questioned, apart from signing Bebe. One grand mistake the 2014 World Cup has helped illustrate is allowing French midfielder, Paul Pogba, to leave Manchester United on a free transfer to Juventus. Pogba is only 21 years old, yet he has been one of the best players at the World Cup and has shown that he can be one of the best midfielders in the world.
Since the early 2000’s, United have not had an abundance of talented midfielders. There are hard-working players like Darren
Fletcher, or pass-masters like Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes. After Roy Keane left in 2005, the United team lacked a ball-winner, someone who would make the tough challenges, while also being able to make big plays, such as Keane’s vital 1999 goal against Juventus in the Champions League semi-final. In fact, every season from about 2005 onward, the United fan base has called for big midfield signings. We signed Owen Hargreaves and Anderson, yet neither ever fit the potential they had, although in Hargreaves’ case, it was hardly his fault. With all these historical problems in midfield, it seems bizarre that Ferguson would allow Pogba to leave.
Pogba left United at the age of 19 in 2012. He had never started a game for United and has claimed he left because he felt disrespected by the club. A now famous incident that reportedly made up his mind was when he was left on the bench and Park Ji-Sung and Rafael started in midfield over him. I am sure that Ferguson had his reasoning, but if this was actually the deciding factor, then it seems foolish, especially considering that Pogba was on the bench. When Pogba announced he was leaving, it seemed that Ferguson was resigned to this happening. Money was another issue involved because Ferguson did not want to pay a teenager the wages that he was demanding. Unfortunately, this was a short-sighted refusal.
United won the league the season after Pogba left and fans did not seem to mind him being away. When Ferguson retired and Moyes was appointed there was a belief that United was in a place to compete again the following season, which clearly did not happen. Since Ferguson left, United has spent more than $100 million on new midfielders. One they overspent on was Marouane Fellaini, a man built like Pogba, but less elegant and no discernible features, besides his afro, that make him worth having over
Pogba. Considering how much money was thrown around for Fellaini, it seems like United would have been better off meeting the teenager’s demands and promoting a youth player through the ranks, similar to what was done last season with Adnan Januzaj.
Looking back it is hard to say that United are better off without Pogba. He has been one of the best players in the France side, and at 21, he has a lot of time to build on his potential. His name has been thrown around with a $60 million price tag, a big improvement compared to how much Juventus paid to sign him in 2012. Meanwhile, United have made their own signings, and I am sure Ander Herrera will be a star, but it is interesting to consider what might have been.