Paul Pogba tactical change paying off for Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Paul Pogba is currently experiencing one of his most productive periods as a Manchester United player, having started four consecutive Premier League matches with strong displays to boot.

The French midfielder is having a greater impact on proceedings than before, and much of his influence stems from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s usage of the 27 year-old.

Pogba’s best role has been consistently debated since he returned to Old Trafford from Juventus; his price of £80m seems to have impacted the wider perception of what to expect from him on the field.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba has been moved out wide
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba has been moved out wide

Some players are specifically effective in one department, whereas others are complete enough to adapt and change depending on the instructions they are presented with.

While Pogba has always been an extremely capable performer with few weaknesses, it is reasonable to suggest that rather than being the man to essentially do everything for his team, he instead benefits from being added as a luxury talent of sorts.

Pogba’s game is packed full of stardust but more often than not at United, he has been asked to essentially contribute excessively to everything, and that hasn’t presented him with much of a platform to flourish.

Pogba in action against Liverpool
Pogba in action against Liverpool

For France, he’s typically used as a central midfielder, but next to N’Golo Kante who is one of the most energetic ball-winning midfielders that England’s top-flight has ever seen.

For Juventus, Pogba usually formed a small part of a very cultured system instilled by Antonio Conte, with Andrea Pirlo and Anturo Vidal offering much of what Pogba has expected to offer at United.

Simply put, Pogba is best when he’s deployed in an offensive manner and when he’s surrounded by a functional arrangement; Solskjaer has been able to give him exactly that of late.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's switch has paid off
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s switch has paid off

Against high quality opponents over the past few weeks, the United boss has used Pogba as one of his four attacking players and ahead of the more balanced ad industrious midfield pairing of Fred and Scott McTominay.

However, when the onus has been on the Red Devils to break down the defensive block ahead of them, Pogba has been used in place of one of Fred or McTominay as Solskjaer has appreciated the greater need for attacking threat in more areas of the field.

Paul Pogba's role against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup (left) was very different to his usage against Burnley (right)
Paul Pogba’s role against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup (left) was very different to his usage against Burnley (right)

Burnley, Sheffield United and West Ham have all faced the central midfield version of Pogba over the Christmas period, whereas Pep Guardiola and Brendan Rodgers have had to manage against the forward type, who is provided with coverage behind him.

Crucially, rather than being interpreted as a system player who is disciplined, tactical and equally good with and without possession, Solskjaer has instead began to value Pogba as an attacking weapon to apply according to the match scenario.

Much like his usage for France and Juventus, the French international is now being used in such a way that ensures his presence cannot disrupt the functional integrity of United’s game, and it is allowing him to be a positive rather than a detrimental negative.

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