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Manchester United legends Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand have laid into Paul Pogba for his “sloppy and slack” performance against Atalanta.
United picked up a creditable 2-2 draw in Italy thanks to yet another late goal from Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team struggled to impose themselves on Atalanta, who took the lead through Josip Ilicic’s shot which David de Gea should have saved.
Ronaldo equalised on the stroke of half-time following a slick move involving Bruno Fernandes, but Atalanta responded well.
Duvan Zapata got in behind to make it 2-1 and United had to weather heavy pressure before Ronaldo popped up with a stunning volley from the edge of the box in the 91st minute to level it.
Pogba was given the chance to establish himself in midfield, but was withdrawn after 69 minutes having failed to make an impact.
The French midfielder is suspended for this weekend’s Manchester derby following his red card against Liverpool, but Scholes thinks he did not do enough to earn a place anyway.
"He wasn't going to play at the weekend anyway – Fred and Mctominay will be the two in there. He wasn’t great, he was sloppy,” he said on BT Sport.
“Ole said there that he’ll never question the character of the team. I don't think we’ve questioned the character of the team – I think they keep going and they try, but the quality today was severely lacking."
Former United defender Ferdinand agreed and believes his team-mates need to take it upon themselves to help him improve.
"Today, I just thought he took liberties at times, just sloppy and a bit slack,” Ferdinand said.
“There comes a time where you need to be told to sharpen up and play one or two touches. All top players have someone behind them saying that because there ain't no player in the world who's perfect every game.
“There are games where you don’t start perfectly. This was a prime example: he gave away a few sloppy balls, taking liberties. You just need to be told sometimes. I’m not making excuses for him. He needs to be telling himself that.”
Do you agree with Scholes and Ferdinand? What should Solskjaer do with Pogba? Have your say in the comments section below.
Scholes added: "He needs someone talking to him all the time. He needs someone onto him. He needs somebody there that he respects. He needs experienced players behind him. How old is he, 28?
“Yes, he’s a really experienced player. He’s one of those players where he’ll get to 35 and he’ll be exactly the same.
“He’ll still be doing the stupid stuff, where he’s trying to stud roll the ball, he’s trying to hold people off, show how strong he is, show how skilful he is.
“People know it now, they see it every day. The biggest thing with Paul is his concentration; he goes away with the fairies at times.
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“Think of the Juventus team, where he was brilliant and that’s why we signed him. He had experience around him: Pirlo, Chiellini, Bonucci, Buffon and an aggressive manager who are telling him all the time. He will need that kind of treatment until he is 35.”
Ferdinand then questioned whether United have the players to provide that challenging team dynamic which worked for Pogba at Juventus.
"There ain’t no one at Man United, other than probably Cristiano,” he said. “I don't think anybody is getting hold of him saying ‘Listen, carry on I will be on to you at half-time in the changing room.’ I don’t there’s that kind of conversation.
“Maybe it's a generational thing. In our day these conversations were going on in the changing room, on the pitch and in the tunnel – and some players need that more than others.”
- Champions League
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
- Paul Pogba
- Rio Ferdinand
- Manchester United FC
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