Former Manchester United Gary Neville has defended his criticism of Paul Pogba and believes the France international merits greater scrutiny because of his status as the best player, and biggest name, in the team.
United have drawn their last three Premier League matches and Pogba has been criticised for his performances in all three games, particularly his decision to take – and miss – a penalty against Wolves.
Neville was particularly outspoken about Pogba’s penalty miss but says there is simply more pressure on the World Cup winner because he is the stand-out player in the team – and he challenged him to also become the stand-out player in the league.
Speaking on the Off The Ball show, Neville explained: “Paul Pogba is now the obsession, because he’s the biggest player at the biggest club, he’s a World Cup winner and it should be a compliment that people are talking about it.
“When I criticised Paul Pogba after the penalty incident at Wolves, I don’t see it as being any different than the criticism of Roy Keane or David Beckham or Wayne Rooney [back when Neville was playing].
“The best player, the leader, the captain in the team, will stand up and he will take the brunt of the criticism. Just as the manager will and the coach will.
It won’t be the assistant coach, it won’t be the left winger or the right-back or the left-back, it will be the player who is the number one player in the team and that’s never changed.
“I speak to people, apparently he’s a great lad, he trains well, he’s a really good person – to be fair, I was at the club with him when he was a young lad.
So when people criticise him or put the pressure on him or apply the pressure to him, it’s because he’s the best, he’s the shining light.
“He’s the Bryan Robson of the 80’s now. United were in trouble, people hung everything on Bryan Robson, everybody now hangs a lot on Paul Pogba. But that’s the pressure that he wants, he wants to be the best player in the world. So now go and show us you’re the best player in the world.
“Carry this team, which is young, inexperienced, hasn’t got the most know-how, needs leaders and characters on the pitch. And I said two weeks ago on television, wouldn’t it be great if he thought of himself as being the Player of the Year this year.
“What does he need to do that? Carry Manchester United into the Champions League, win the Europa League, drive them forward. Take it as your responsibility, you’re at this club for 12 months and you’re going to be the best player in the league and one of the best players in the world.
“That’s what I want from Paul Pogba, that’s what I want from him because I believe he’s capable of doing it. I have faith in him to do it. But then I see an incident like Wolves, and that disappoints me. So he has to take the criticism for that.”