Paul Ince: It’s clear Pogba’s heart isn’t in it at United anymore

Former Man United captain Paul Ince says he believes Paul Pogba still wants out of Old Trafford, and that the club have made a mistake not replacing Romelu Lukaku


Before the game, I was concerned about the Paul Pogba situation and how the fans would react. The way he went about his business summer, saying he wanted to leave, I wondered what the supporters would do. But he owes the fans because their reception was good. He must’ve been sceptical about the reaction he was going to get, but you have to applaud the fans because it couldn’t have been easy seeing him behave like that.

That could have really impacted the way the team played, if all the focus was on Pogba and there was a negative environment for him. It has an impact on all the players, too, they wonder whether they’re going to walk out and he will be slaughtered – and it means he, once again, becomes the centre of attention.

SINGAPORE – JULY 20: Paul Pogba of Manchester United controls the ball under pressure of Samuele Longo of FC Internazionale during the 2019 International Champions Cup match between Manchester United and FC Internazionale at the Singapore National Stadium on July 20, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)

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That being said, it’s clear that his heart isn’t fully in it at Man United and you can see that from how he played against Chelsea. Sometimes his concentration levels weren’t as they should have been – maybe he still has it in his mind that he’s going to get away before the European window shuts in a couple of weeks. He’s saying all the right things off the pitch, but I wonder if that’s because he has one eye on the exit door. No one is going to be totally happy and confident he’s staying until the window shuts in Spain, Italy etcetera.

You’ve got a big decision after that – if he doesn’t go to Real Madrid, how’s he going to react with his performances at United, at least up until January? With him, the toys are often thrown out of the pram, but if he’s staying he needs to knuckle down for the club.

It would be tough for United if he does go, though, and they are unable to replace him. Because from what I can see they don’t have someone already that can do what he does. His attitude was better on Sunday, but he has to continue that now, especially if he doesn’t get his transfer.

He’s playing a dangerous game. He must keep the fans onside and the only way to do that is by putting a shift in and having the right attitude.

He’s still putting himself in the shop window at the moment, and it’s clear he wants the move to Real Madrid, so I believe he’ll play to the best of his ability until their window shuts. It’ll be interesting to see what happens after that.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – APRIL 10: Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United reacts during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between Manchester United and FC Barcelona at Old Trafford on April 10, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Lukaku is a big loss

It’s a tough one with Romelu Lukaku, because the fact of the matter is he is always going to score you goals. Last season you could see the signs that he wasn’t happy, that he wanted to leave.
There were signs that the end was approaching for him, but what he does offer is guaranteed goals in the net.

As a club, for United to suddenly lose 20 or so goals that he nets, that’s a big loss and they should have replaced him – his goals will be missed.

It puts a lot of pressure on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. In my eyes, for United to be performing well, Rashford needs to be netting 20-25 goals this season and I’m not yet sure if he’ll do that.

I look at United and I feel like they’re almost copying a Liverpool model. They got Virgil van Dijk in and United got Harry Maguire in, and it seems they’ve gone for three forwards too, pacey players like Martial, Lingard and Rashford – I don’t see where Lukaku fits into that – so I’m not surprised Ole let him go.

But that does put extra pressure on the younger lads to find the net. The fact is, Lukaku is a goalscorer, he’s always been a natural goalscorer but the ball has to be placed right in front of him.

He has to be fed and he will score you goals, and I’m sure he’ll show that at Inter Milan.

Having played there myself, it’s a great move for him. It’s a wonderful club and a wonderful place to live, it’ll be a great experience. The expectations will be huge on him because he’s come from United, and there’ll be nowhere to hide, but he should relish that.

CARDIFF, WALES – AUGUST 03: Jesse lingard of Manchester United celebrates scoring the equaling goal during the 2019 International Champions Cup match between Manchester United and AC Milan at Principality Stadium on August 03, 2019 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)


Chelsea was a great result for United, but let’s not get carried away, there’s still a huge gap between them and Liverpool/City

Man United’s opening game against Chelsea was great – but they played into their hands. I’ve said before that Ole’s side need to get off to a good start, hit the ground running, and that’s exactly what they did.

Chelsea weren’t ready for it at all, they weren’t ready for how open Man United were playing. It was nice to see some positives while watching them – I’ve criticised Jesse Lingard a lot, last season I thought he was bang average, but if he plays like he did yesterday and proves me wrong there’ll be good things ahead of him.

Ultimately, as a United player you are all always going to be scrutinised and picked apart whether that’s by ex-players, pundits, fans, or the media.

That’s the way it is and it will always be like that, and the best thing you can do is prove people wrong. You’re at Man United so you’ll always have to prove people wrong – and I felt Jesse did that against Chelsea. I hope he keeps it up.

It’s easy to get carried away, but you want to see pace, goals, and excitement at Old Trafford and that’s what we saw on Sunday. The scoreline flattered United but the main thing is they have that confidence now, going into the season.

I still believe they aren’t going to bridge that big gap between them and the likes of Man City or Liverpool.

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What do you think?