Three years after returning to the club from Juventus for a world-record fee, there is widespread talk about the 26-year-old moving on to pastures new this summer.
Real Madrid are strongly interested in a player who was voted into this season’s PFA Team of the Year but has failed to win over a number of United supporters given his efforts across the team’s poor campaign.
Pogba was heckled by some fans after the embarrassing 2-0 home defeat to relegated Cardiff on Sunday, which is thought to have left the midfielder in an understandably bad mood as he made his way down the tunnel.
United have been steadfast in their stance that the midfielder is not for sale, but fans’ favourite Evra cannot help but feel that his former Juventus and France colleague will leave.
“It’s not like I am protecting Paul, but when there are incidents like yesterday (Sunday) with the fan, they are killing Paul,” the former left-back told Sky Sports.
“He has the most goals, most assists. I know you can question his leadership and in the last few games you want more, so that’s why you can criticise him right now, but overall he has been the best player this season.
“Just because it’s Paul Pogba, he has haircuts, he dances, his Instagram and everything, people will criticise him while forgetting the player that he is.
“Only him and (David) De Gea can play in a big team in Europe.”
Asked if he would build a new team around Pogba or whether the midfielder would leave, Evra said: “I think he will leave because you need to feel the love when you play somewhere, you need to be committed.
“If Paul decides to stay another year and then leave, or stay another few years, maybe the fans will love him because he is committed.
“The United fans love you when you say you are committed.
“When I go to the game and I see fans shouting and swearing at players, I am in shock.
“In my time, you can play the worst game of your life and they will clap you. I remember losing 4-1 at home to Liverpool and they were still singing. That’s the United fans I know – they’ve just had enough.
“I don’t talk for Paul, whether he stays or leaves, but when you have negativity around you, you should leave.”
They are eye-catching comments from Evra, who was pictured with Pogba last week and has a close relationship with the United midfielder.
“I advise Paul every day,” Evra said. “We FaceTime, we talk.
“I tell him every day what it means to wear the tracksuit, not even the shirt, just the tracksuit, and what it represents. He listens to me.
“Before he left the club when he was young to go to Juventus, I spent two hours at his house talking to his mother and brothers, saying how Paul can be the new Patrick Vieira at United.”
Evra not only has an association with Pogba but also with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, whose search for a technical director has seen a number of former players linked with a return to United in one capacity or another.
“We talk but I do not think I am ready myself,” he added.
“I sacrificed my life a lot to succeed during all my career and if I want a role in Manchester United right now, then I would have to sacrifice my life all over again. I do not want to be put in a box.”
Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna and Mark Dempsey will remain part of the Manchester United coaching staff next season, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed.
A challenging Premier League season came to an ignominious end on Sunday as relegated Cardiff won 2-0 at a shell-shocked Old Trafford.
A lot of work is required this summer to improve United’s squad and background set-up, but Solskjaer is happy enough with the coaching staff.
Former captain Carrick and ex-Under-18 coach McKenna joined predecessor Jose Mourinho’s backroom team at the start of the season, while Dempsey came in when the Norwegian was appointed caretaker.
“They are all going to stay,” Solskjaer told United’s official app.
“I think that’s important, that we keep that team going forward. We do bounce off each other and they are some excellent coaches.
“Kieran, with his 32 years of age, you’d think he’s had 32 years in coaching.
“Demps – I’ve worked with him now since 2011 when I moved back to Norway, he came with me to Molde.
“He’s a Manchester United lad through and through, he came through with Norman Whiteside and Mark Hughes in that youth team. I think he was captain and he played once for the first team. He knows what this means.
“Michael – what can I say that no-one else knows about Michael? When he came in, it was my last season as a player so I played with him for one year.
“He’s a personality I can really connect with.”
United assistant manager Mike Phelan signed a three-year deal on Friday and goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez has been with the club since Solskjaer’s predecessor Mourinho arrived in 2016.
The 1999 treble hero replaced the Portuguese as United manager in December and shone as caretaker manager, only to struggle to hit the right note as permanent boss.
Solskjaer says this season has taken a physical and emotional toll on his group, but the ups and downs have taught him a lot.
“I’ve learned that I don’t like losing,” he said. “I like winning. We started off fantastically.
“The boys were unbelievable when I came in. We were positive. We won games. The whole group gelled together and I enjoyed winning but I know that football is hard.
“You can’t just expect everything to go that way and the reality hit us. We are in a league with loads of very good teams and, to be at our top (level), we need to be 100 per cent focused.
“We came into some games really, really focused with the full team and I thought that was fantastic.
“Then you learn a lot when you go through tough times and think about ‘who can we build this team around?’ and who we think is going to take the next step because we need to go to the next level.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Such is the thirst for instant success and vitriol produced as a by-product of a miserable season, many Manchester United fans are embarrassed by the fact one of the world’s biggest clubs could make an unknown Championship player their first signing of the summer.
Versatile and promising Swansea City forward Daniel James is reportedly on the verge of a £15 million move to Old Trafford, with the clubs said to have agreed a fee. The move appears a formality.
Ignore the fact the 21-year-old possesses searing pace, is comfortable on either foot, registered the most league assists at the Liberty Stadium and scored the winner on his first start for Wales in an impressive breakthrough 2018/19 season.
United fans don’t want to hear about that. They want marquee signings.
Big names like Jadon Sancho, Paulo Dybala and Kalidou Koulibaly. They want a statement of intent from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and an insipid club board that have failed to deliver time and time again in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013.
Forget the fact United have blown close to £700m since his exit, shelling out fortunes on a succession of duds who have completely flopped or are still yet to live up to their price tags.
Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Memphis Depay, Alexis Sanchez, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial. There’s six big names for you, United fans.
Six stars who have failed to shine significantly in a red shirt.
Yet here is a player in James who’s on an upward curve. Swansea finished a respectable 10th in the Championship, yet manager Graham Potter has spoken of James already being at the level of a top-six Premier League club.
You also have to believe his national team boss Ryan Giggs has had a word in the ear of former team-mate Solskjaer.
Of course, the club need experience and proven ability at the top level to arrive this summer – especially having lost someone like Ander Herrera on a free transfer this week.
It’s been season in which Jose Mourinho – despite his outdated tactics – was harshly thrown under the bus by under-performing players. Solskjaer – after a stunningly, but brief turnaround – was then disgracefully let down by the same senior stars who initially performed like players reborn under the Norwegian.
United fans should be yearning for young, hungry, hard-working characters eager to earn the right to wear the shirt. Not act like they already own it.
But this is the way of United fans in the modern day, especially on social media.
One fan on Twitter summed it up succinctly when he described most Red Devils followers as initially claiming earnest, industrious players should be targeted rather than talented, power-hungry Galactico-types. Only to be then baulk at a relative bargain being plucked from relative obscurity.
A cursory look at the current Premier League season throws up a handful of fine players reared in the Championship – and even below.
James Maddison notched seven goals and seven assists in a superb season for Leicester City, instantly justifying his £22.5m acquisition from Norwich last season.
The 22-year-old was also called into the senior England team by Gareth Southgate in October for the UEFA Nations League matches against Croatia and Spain, though he is yet to make his Three Lions bow.
Stepping into a new environment can be tough for any player, let alone one making the gargantuan leap from the Championship to England’s top-flight. And yet, Maddison has been the lynchpin of Leicester’s season, the spark that makes them tick.
David Brooks had barely broken through at Sheffield United before he was sold to Bournemouth last summer. The 21-year-old settled instantly and notched five assists and also found the net seven times in a tasty campaign for the Cherries.
He was another who transformed his form to the international stage. Having already made his Wales debut in late 2017 he provided a stunning assist for Sam Vokes in a 4-1 friendly thrashing against Spain in Cardiff last October, and was then instrumental in a 1-0 victory over Slovakia as the Dragons began Euro 2020 qualifying in style.
In a Bournemouth side that can be susceptible defensively, they nevertheless catch the eye with their swashbuckling attacking play, of which the silky smooth Brooks has become an integral figure.
Club-mate Callum Wilson has earned England recognition this season after a spectacular nine months at Vitality Stadium. Plucked from League 1 Coventry City in 2014, the striker plundered 23 goals in his debut season which propelled the Cherries into the Premier League.
His returns since have been somewhat modest – five, six and eight goals in the last three seasons – but he has enjoyed an immense 2018/19 campaign, breaking double figures for the first time and international recognition has followed. The 27-year-old bagged a debut goal in a 3-0 friendly win over the United States in November.
The shining example is Dele Alli. His form has tailed off for Tottenham in 2019 somewhat, just three assists and five goals in the Premier League this season, but there can be no doubting the 23-year-old’s resplendent rise from League 1 and MK Dons, from whom he was signed in 2015.
He has gone on to enter double figures for goals for Spurs in every season since – bar 2018/19 – and already owns 35 England caps.
Though he’s suffered a dip there’s little doubt the mercurial attacking midfielder has a big part to play for both club – he is sure to feature in the Champions League final against Liverpool next month – and country for years to come.
Even if you’re a United fan, the club’s history is smattered with players who thrived having being bred in the lower leagues. Denis Iriwn, Andy Cole, Steve Coppell, Gary Pallister and Chris Smalling all came from humble beginnings but established themselves as part of trophy-winning squads.
After numerous false dawns under various managers since Ferguson retired, United reached a nadir this season. Change is essential – both in terms of tactics, attitude and transfer policy.
A club that forged its reputation on nurturing and promoting youth should be excited. James, with pace to burn, vision and bravery, is exactly the sort of exciting young attacking talent United require. James has something to prove and United have everything to gain.