The proof Paul Pogba IS a leader: Half-time dressing room footage shows Man United’s maligned midfielder inspiring France to glory in the Nations League final, in contrast to Roy Keane’s view on him
- Footage has emerged of Paul Pogba giving a rousing speech to France players
- The Man United star has been accused of lacking leadership at Old Trafford
- Roy Keane has been a vocal critic, saying midfielder doesn’t take responsibility
- But Pogba showed passion by demanding ‘aggression’ in Nations League final
Paul Pogba has shown he does have what it takes to be a leader for Manchester United after footage emerged of the midfielder delivering a rousing half-time speech to inspire France to glory in the Nations League final.
Les Bleus lifted the trophy after a 2-1 win over Spain, with Didier Deschamps’ men coming from behind to seal a late victory on Sunday night thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe.
But with the scores level pegging at 0-0 at the half-time interval, United’s £89million star Pogba demanded more from his team-mates, with a clip from the dressing room showing him digging into the squad for their lack of aggression.
France midfielder Paul Pogba was seen delivering a rousing half time speech to France stars
The Man United midfielder urged the squad to be more aggressive in Nations League final
‘We have to be aggressive!’ he says in the video that appeared on social media.
‘It starts from the front all the way to the back. We win the ball back and we attack! And yes, we’re going to run a lot because they have quality players, but so do we.
‘We have to keep the ball and hurt them. In the second half we have to be aggressive.’
That particularly strategy of holding onto the ball didn’t quite go to plan as the Spaniard’s dominated the bulk of possession with 64 per cent, and Luis Enrique’s side ended up taking the lead through Mikel Oyarzabal in the 64th minute of the game to dent France’s hopes of landing more silverware.
But the team followed their gameplan to be aggressive – with the 2018 World Cup winners committing 14 fouls throughout the game and earning three yellow cards after the break, including one from Pogba immediately after play resumed.
His words proved vital as France came from behind to beat Spain and lift the trophy
Pogba celebrates with team-mate Leo Dubois at the final whistle after a super display
That helped unnerve Spain as Benzema netted the equaliser with just under half an hour to go after Mbappe’s assist – with the PSG star then clinching the winner ten minutes from time to ensure glory for France.
Pogba’s speech proved to be integral to their success as the French players lifted the Nations League for the first time. It was a brilliant individual performance from the former Juventus man as he got stuck in and helped keep possession when Les Bleus won the ball back.
After the game he lamented France’s slow start in the game but was delighted with how his team fought back despite Spain’s early dominance.
‘We did not get off to a good start, we were dominated and waited until the first goal to react,’ he said.
Pogba had laid into Les Bleus for their failure to react after going behind to Spain’s opener
He got stuck in against the Spaniards and helped the side keep the ball after winning it back
‘We know we have to do better. But if it’s the way we have to win, so be it. Winning a trophy is always good. We’re always hungry for those.’
Pogba has been highly scrutinised during his five years back with United – particularly by pundits – with club legend Roy Keane often a harsh critic.
Keane has questioned his displays this season – claiming he would not get into the starting line-ups of Man City, Chelsea or Liverpool – and previously criticised Pogba’s leadership qualities at Old Trafford.
Ahead of France’s Euro 2020 campaign this summer, Keane said Pogba often stepped up for his country and took responsibility, but asked why he had not done the same for Manchester United.
Pogba has been criticised over his leadership skills at Old Trafford by pundit Roy Keane (L)
‘Listen we keep talking about Paul Pogba. There’s no doubt he’s a talented boy. I still want more from him, particularly when he’s playing for Manchester United.
‘I think when he’s with United, he maybe doesn’t take responsibility, maybe there’s too much responsibility or maybe there’s not enough players around him who can take responsibility,’ added the Irishman.
‘I know with France he is sharing this kind of responsibility with other players around. Maybe in Manchester (he is) isolated too much and maybe this is why he is feeling more pressure.
‘Obviously there is a difference between the Pogba we know with France and the one we know at United.’
Pogba has enjoyed a great start to the season with United on a personal note – picking up seven assists already, including four in the 5-1 drubbing of Leeds United.
He has been guilty of a handful of sub-par displays, however, with United losing momentum of late after two draws and a defeat to Aston Villa this term.
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