Manchester United need to build their midfield around Pogba
Jose Mourinho needs to be very careful with how he builds his midfield at Manchester United. The Portuguese boss’ primary concern should be to build his squad around Paul Pogba. Unfortunately, adding James Rodriguez to the mix could limit Pogba’s ability to flourish at Old Trafford.
Reports from England claim that United have already agreed to personal terms with the Real Madrid star. Offensively, the Colombian is a perfect fit with United’s existing attacking corps. His skill on the ball and passing ability should unlock the potential of young stars like Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
In fairness, Nemanja Matic’s arrival at Old Trafford could help mitigate James’ harm on Pogba. The talented Serbian is quite content to sit back and cover the back four. His partnership with Pogba should provide the Frenchman a platform to showcase his full range of skills.
That one step forward could end up being overshadowed by James’ arrival being two steps back. The talented Colombian is an offensive genius, but his defensive work rate is questionable at best. There’s a reason that Zinedine Zidane effectively banished him from the Real Madrid squad. He found his defensive contribution to be quite lacking.
Against mediocre opposition, United will enjoy the lion’s share of possession and Pogba will still get forward. The troubles will only arise against elite competition. Playing James and Pogba at the same time is going to require the latter to be much more disciplined than he was last season. Time will tell if Mourinho is able to sell that vision to Pogba this season.
The other alternative would be expecting James to contribute more on the defensive end of the pitch. Mourinho will certainly try to extol more effort from his new signing, but he’s never going to be a defensive stalwart. His lack of size and toughness limit his ceiling on that end of the pitch.
In the end, look for Mourinho to tinker with his formation when United come up against truly gifted attacks. Pogba and James will both make the starting XI, but he may try to balance their offensive leanings out with stronger defensive teammates. Adding James is a risk worth taking for Manchester United, but it’s not a banner acquisition for their most talented player.