Football journalist Daniel Harris joined OTB AM on Tuesday to talk about Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matić and the potential sacking of Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
In the wake of Manchester United’s recent 1-0 loss to Arsenal at home, the rumours surrounding Solskjær’s future at United have heated up once again.
“The problem is it is starting to look like a cycle,” Harris said.
“You have some really good performances, then you have some that are so unspeakably bad, and then you get to a point where it looks like one or two more defeats and you are going to be in trouble.
“Then they produce a couple more good performances and you think, ‘they’ve got it’, and then they produce some more disgraceful performances.”
Harris believes that the biggest issue for Solskjær at the moment is players like Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matić not playing for him.
“I have been saying this for a long time, that Pogba and Matić are going to get him sacked,” Harris said.
“When I say that, I don’t mean that Pogba and Matić are not good players, who can’t offer anything to the team, who aren’t useful in the right circumstances.
“But they are common factors in some of United’s worst performances, [and] also in some of United’s best performances.
“It is not really about the best performances, it is about the worst performances, and they are common factors in all of those.”
United have struggled to get their consistency right for a while now, and, according to Harris, Pogba and Matić are some of the worst culprits of this.
“What are some of the worst things about the worst performances? It is a lack of speed to the ball, it is a lack of speed on the ball, a lack of clever forward passing,” Harris said.
“That is Matić and some of Pogba.”
In particular, Harris is worried about the age profile of the team with Pogba and Matić in it.
“When I look at Solskjær’s teams, I think, if I were him, I’d be thinking I’ve got some of these players who are not the future,” he said.
“United are not going to win, or challenge for, titles with Nemanja Matić. He is old, he is miles past his best.
“I would be trying to not include him wherever possible, because I would be trying to build the team that might be able to do that."
Pogba hasn't been good enough
Harris believes that there has been too many excuses made for the string of poor performances from Pogba over the last four years.
“Pogba has let United down so often, and there will always be circumstances [in which he plays well]," Harris said.
“Pogba needs good players to play with, and all of this; what position does he play, perhaps he needs to play here, or he needs to play there.
“Ultimately, over the last four years, Paul Pogba hasn’t been good enough.”
Although he acknowledges that Pogba can be used effectively by Solskjær, Harris would use him as little as possible.
“When Paul Pogba plays really badly, it looks really bad,” Harris said.
“I would be trying to pick Donny van der Beek ahead of him wherever I could, and try to use Pogba as some kind of impact sub.
“Maybe [I would use him] further forward when United play teams who are likely to sit back, but in teams that are likely to get stuck into United, that is not where Pogba flourishes.”