Paul Pogba: Why Man Utd Star Shouldn’t Be Rewarded With PFA Team of the Year Nod

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is again the subject of much debate after his inclusion in the 2018/19 PFA Premier League Team of the Year, the only player not from title-chasing Manchester City or Liverpool to be included in the select XI.

The PFA Team of the Year is voted for by the players themselves and if his there is a consensus among his fellow professionals that Pogba is one of the Premier League’s best 11 players this season then it would appear that he is worthy of his place.

Paul Pogba

He has clearly done enough to impress his peers, either directly in games against them, in other games they’ve watched, or through conversations they’ve had with other players.

Has Pogba been good this season? Yes, great even at times. But has he been consistent? Not at all.

Pogba is undoubtedly one of the most talented central midfield players in the world, that much is clear. Those flashes have yielded 16 goals and 11 assists in all competitions this season and it has been by far the most prolific campaign of his career.

But there is a feeling, certainly among many frustrated fans, pundits and other onlookers, that the languid Frenchman could still be so much better if would only work that bit harder.

The jury is still out on why he doesn’t work hard. Perhaps United just isn’t the right club for him and he can’t better perform any better, or that may be what he tells himself. Notwithstanding that does occasional quality alone actually warrant a place in the PFA Team of the Year?

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Pogba was disappointing against Manchester City at Old Trafford on Wednesday as United lost for a seventh time in nine games to propel their closest rivals to the brink of the Premier League title.

There were moments, just moments, when he looked good. But he was also slow and ponderous, too often made poor decisions on the ball, appeared to be far short of giving it his all and generally looked as though he would rather be pretty much anywhere else. It is not new.

There was a particular instance that seemed to sum it all up when Pogba was beaten to a header by City winger and PFA Players’ Player of the Year nominee Raheem Sterling.

Closer to the ball and with a sizeable strength and six-inch height advantage over his opponent, Pogba had control of the situation, or at least he should have done. But his weak attempt at a jump was no match for Sterling, who leapt higher and won back possession for City.

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Here were two incredibly talented footballers competing for the same ball, but it was a non-contest because they are currently at such different levels. One is absolutely flying, in this case literally momentarily, because he is working harder than he ever has done before and is reaping the rewards. The other is stagnating because he rarely seems like he’s even trying.

When Pogba plays it often looks as though he wants it to be effortless, for people to marvel at how easy he can make even the most difficult pass, run or shot appear. But there are other things that people expect to see from top players, things that he doesn’t do.

Pogba rarely sprints back to help his teammates in a defensive capacity, he has no interest, and his mentality appears focused on looking good rather winning at all costs.

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That is why he seems incapable of rousing himself in difficult games against opponents who are able to stifle him and his output. Top players will always find a way to perform, even in the face of adversity. What’s more, they raise the game of others around them. That isn’t Pogba.

He plays well if other play well and not the other way around. It is something he has been spoiled with a France national team that includes N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi.

The 26-year-old apologised for a ‘disrespectful’ performance in the wake of United’s 4-0 utter humiliation at the hands of Everton last weekend.

As far as former United captain Roy Keane is concerned, those words mean nothing. “I wouldn’t believe a word he says. I don’t even think he believed what he was saying there,” the seven-time Premier League said after seeing Pogba’s interview prior to kick-off in the Manchester derby.

Speaking in the Sky Sports studio, Keane went on to say, “He’s on about being a team-mate, if you’re going to be a good team-mate you’ve got to run back when you’re defending. He’s talking about body language – but throws his hands up in the air. He’s a big problem for United.

“He’s a senior player, played in big competitions and won big trophies. I don’t think he leads by example, from what I see. I don’t know what he’s like on the training ground or when they’re travelling, but from what I see.

“He mentioned pride, but I don’t see it in his performances. My eyes don’t lie to me.”

Paul Pogba

It is hard to disagree with Keane, a player who put everything into every performance during his own career and was frustrated and angry when he felt others did not do the same.

Innate talent will only take Pogba so far. But to make that next leap and reach the elite bracket of world class players he has to give so much more in other ways. Perhaps producing occasional flashes is enough to get into the PFA Premier League Team of the Year, but it shouldn’t be.

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Inter vs Juventus Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

​Recently crowned Serie A champions Juventus will face Inter for the 204th time in their history this weekend, as Luciano Spalletti’s side look to cement their place in the Champions League places with a win this weekend.

The Bianconeri have struggled on the road in recent weeks, winning just two games away from home since the start of last month, but Saturday’s hosts haven’t won as the home team at San Siro since they edged past SPAL on March 10.

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Where to Watch

​When Is Kick-Off? ​Saturday 27 April
​What Time Is Kick-Off? ​19:30 (BST)
​Where Is it Played? ​San Siro
​TV Channel/Live Stream? ​/DAZN
​Referee? ​N/A

Team News

Not too much has changed for Inter personnel wise as Šime Vrsaljko​ remains their only notable absentee through injury, although Marcelo Brozović is also a doubt.

Mauro Icardi could be in line to return to the starting lineup this weekend after being dropped for Lautaro Martínez during the club’s 1-1 draw with AS Roma last week.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi,Lautaro Martinez

For JuventusMattia Perin, Mario Mandžukić and Sami Khedira remain sidelined for the rest of the season, while Martín Cáceres could be rushed back from injury in time for their journey east to Milan.

There has been no official word on Paulo Dybala’s fitness after he was forced to miss their most recent game against Fiorentina, but the Italian press suggests that the Argentine won’t return until after their match with Inter.


Predicted Lineups

Internazionale​ Handanović; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Škriniar, Asamoah; Vecino, Gagliardini, Nainggolan; Politano, Perišić, Icardi​.
​Juventus Szczesny; Cancelo, Rugani, Bonucci, Sandro; Can, Bentancur, Matuidi; Bernardeschi, Kean, Ronaldo.​

Head to Head Record

Inter and Juventus have faced each other 203 times ​over the years, more common than any other fixture in both clubs’ respective histories, with the Bianconeri coming out on top on 97 occasions compared to the Nerazzurri’s 57.

Gonzalo Higuain,Daniele Rugani

Over their last 10 games, which includes their two-legged semi-final in the Coppa Italia during the 2015/16 season, Juventus again come out on top with six wins, while there have only been two draws between the two sides.


Recent Form

Saturday’s hosts have been very hot and cold since the turn of the year, but their six wins in Serie A have helped to keep Inter on course for another shot in the Champions League​ next season, although they’ve been dumped out of the Europa League and Coppa Italia.

Juventus, meanwhile, have also had their run in Europe and Italy’s domestic cup brought to an abrupt end, but last week’s win over Fiorentina ensured that they were crowned Serie A champions for an eighth straight season.

Internazionale Juventus
​Inter 1-1 Roma (20/04) ​Juventus 2-1 Fiorentina (20/04)
​Frosinone 1-3 Inter (14/04) ​Juventus 1-2 Ajax (16/04)
​Inter 0-0 Atalanta (07/04) ​SPAL 2-1 Juventus (13/04)
​Genoa 0-4 Inter (03/04) ​Ajax 1-1 Juventus (10/04)
​Inter 0-1 Lazio (31/03) Juventus 2-1 AC Milan (​06/04)

Prediction

It could​ be easy for Juventus to take their foot off the gas now they’ve secured the Serie A title, something which has happened at times over the last few years.

But the Bianconeri don’t have any other competitions to focus their attention on this season, and manager Massimiliano Allegri will demand that his side don’t let up just because the rest of the campaign is going to be a formality.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Inter meanwhile do have things to play for, as defeat this weekend could see Milan, Roma and Atalanta move to within three points of them with just four games left to play.

Even though Inter do need a result, however, Juventus should have enough to get the better of their opponents in this weekend’s Derby d’Italia.

Prediction: Inter 1-2 Juventus

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Chelsea Release Statement Following Eden Hazard’s Omission From PFA Team of the Year

​Chelsea have released a somewhat bizarre statement following Eden Hazard’s omission from the PFA team of the year, arguing that the Belgian was hard done by not to make the cut.

The team – as voted for by Premier League players themselves – included a forward line of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, with no room for the likes of Hazard, nor the league’s joint top scorers Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. 

That is despite the Belgian enjoying an excellent personal season in which he has hit 16 ​Premier League goals, with his further 13 assists putting him atop the overall goal contribution charts. 

Few would have argued with his inclusion had he made the lineup, but his fellow professionals ultimately deemed that there were other more influential attackers, and that seems to have ruffled the feathers somewhat at Chelsea. 

They put out an ​article on their official website shortly after the team was named on Thursday, outlining the statistics behind the 28-year-old’s season.

“Our no.10 is enjoying an outstanding season full of eye-catching moments and his non-selection is being widely described as a surprise omission,” it reads.

“Certainly his headline statistics from the current season cannot have counted against him when the votes were cast.”


While Hazard has been a hugely influential figure at ​Chelsea, both Mane and Sterling – who made the 11 – have netted more Premier League goals this term. 

Both players are also key figures in potent attacking forces, and central to one of the highest quality title races we have seen in the Premier League era, so it’s not too difficult to see why each won more votes. 

Incidentally, reports emerged on Thursday that the Belgian’s move to Real Madrid could be closer than ever, with a ​£100m transfer fee being touted. Some skeptics may even suggest Chelsea’s public statement is a late attempt to curry favour with the forward as Madrid circle.

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Roy Keane Warns of Liverpool-Style Title Drought at Man Utd as Club Legend Rants at Derby Defeat

​Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane has warned of a potential Liverpool-esque title drought at his old club, while claiming current manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer could meet the same fate as José Mourinho by being thrown “under the bus” by the players at Old Trafford.

The 47-year-old was speaking before and after Manchester United’s defeat to rivals City on Wednesday, where goals from Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sané saw Pep Guardiola’s side return to the top of the Premier League table.

Keane suggested that the current crop of players will be quick to throw first-team manager Solkjaer “under the bus” if their form doesn’t improve, while the former Republic of Ireland international also brought the club’s lack of leadership into question.

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It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing for Manchester United or Altrincham. You have to be up for every game of football,” Keane told Sky Sports

I don’t fall for this carry on that there will be a brilliant reaction from this set of players. These are the same players that threw Mourinho under the bus and they will do exactly the same to Ole. Leopards don’t change their spots.

We spoke about leaders and characters – I just don’t think they have enough of them. These young players need examples around the club and that’s the big question mark.

I think there are talented players in there but who’s going to lead them? Who’s going to get them through this tough period? There’s no quick fix.”

Keane also singled out midfielder Paul Pogba for his failure to shoulder any responsibility during Manchester United poor run of form this season, claiming that the Frenchman is proving to be a “big problem” for the decision makers at Old Trafford.


The guy is a talented boy, but we’re saying the same thing over and over again,” he added. “The number of times we’ve seen him in games where he is not sprinting or running back. He’s a big problem for United.

He’s a senior player, played in big competitions and won big trophies. I don’t think he leads by example, from what I see.”

Keane later hinted that the Red Devils could go the way of rivals Liverpool, who are currently 29 years without a top flight title, after an extended period of dominance in the 1970s and 80s.

He said: “When we were playing, if anyone had said Liverpool would go 30 years without winning the league, they’d have thought you need locking up! United, the years soon go by, and unless there’s an improvement…

“If you invite me back next year, hopefully I’ll still have a job at Forest, you’ll be having the same conversation.”

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WSL Week 19 Preview: Arsenal Look to Claim Title at Brighton as Manchester City Host Yeovill

The Women’s Super League is back at full throttle this weekend with the division’s penultimate full round of fixtures, and we could see new champions crowned when Arsenal travel to Brighton. 

Of course, as the season draws to a close, we have numerous other clashes to look forward to, with ten sides in action on Sunday. 

Here’s what’s on the agenda for matchweek 19. 


Brighton vs Arsenal


Brighton have little left to play for​ in their maiden WSL season, but the same certainly cannot be said for Joe Montemuro’s Arsenal. Four points clear of Manchester City in second place, they can put the season to bed with a victory on the south coast. 

Having not lifted a domestic title since 2012, they have been particularly keen to claim some silverware for months now. They have recorded six wins on the bounce since a wobble that saw them fall to both City and Chelsea over the festive period, but those two defeats remain the only dropped points so far this season.

Instrumental to that incredible run has been the form of Vivianne Miedema. The 22-year-old sensation has hit 21 goals already this season, and having netted what proved to be the winner against Everton last time out, a similar showing here would go a long way towards a famous victory. 


Birmingham City vs Liverpool​


Birmingham have been mainstays of the WSL since its formation in 2011, and sitting in a respectable fourth place at present, they’ll be keen to finish the season as strongly as they can and leapfrog Chelsea into third. 

For the Reds, it’s a different story. They’ve had such a poor season, and though they won convincingly against Bristol City in their last outing, two wins in the 12 matches that preceded it  really sum up where they’re at at present. 

That said, they have the opportunity to make a statement against one of the league’s big-hitters here. 


Everton vs Reading​


Although they held their own against Arsenal last weekend, readjusting to life in the top flight has not been easy going for Everton. While their first season back up saw them pick up just 14 points, they only seem to be going backwards, and have collected just nine so far this season.

Their eyes will undoubtedly be on the Merseyside derby on the final game of the season, but before that, they have Reading to contend with. Their visitors have been one of the chasing back at the top of the division throughout the season, but know they cannot catch fourth-placed Birmingham, and will turn their attention to those behind them in the standings. 

Incidentally, Fara Williams’ nine goals see her as the joint top scorer of non-Arsenal or City players this season, so she will be keen to build on what has been a very good personal season and get into double figures. 


Manchester City vs Yeovil Town

If ever there was a tale of two sides with differing fortunes, this is it. City, having joined the top  flight in 2014, have been there or thereabouts ​in the title picture since lifting the trophy for the first time in 2016. They finished runners up to Chelsea last season, and have a fleeting chance of besting Arsenal this time around, although the four point gap and their opposition’s formidable form means that remains unlikely. 

Still, they will be keen to keep racking up the wins to keep the pressure on their title rivals, and with no disrespect to Yeovil, they won’t get many better chances to do so than this one. 

Town have managed to win just twice this season – incidentally both against Everton – and sit bottom on a points tally of -3 after going into administration in March. On occasion, they have shown they can be a decent side, but have their work cut out for them against the likes of Nikita Parris and Georgia Stanway, who have 29 WSL goals between them this campaign. 


Bristol City vs West Ham United


Rounding out Sunday’s matches is West Ham’s trip to Bristol City, which has arguably the least on the line of all the ties. 

The two sides sit firmly wedged in mid-table, with City five points ahead of the Hammers, having played a game more. They’ve lost their last two outings, so securing a win against one of the sides around them in the table to restore some pride towards the end of the season​ will be their priority. 

They come up against a West Ham side who have enjoyed a solid, if not hugely successful, first foray into the WSL. They have an FA Cup final to look forward to against Manchester City in a week’s time, however, so will likely use this tie as a warm-up for the big one. 


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