Paul Pogba was included in the PFA Team of the Year on Thursday - the only player outside of Manchester City or Liverpool to make the all star XI of the 2018/19 Premier League season.
It's been largely met with ridicule. Paul Pogba, seriously?
He doesn't try. His work rate sucks. Pogba's no leader. Penalty merchant. Not world class, whatever. But clearly he's good enough to warrant the inclusion given those who voted him into the team are his fellow professionals. You know, the players who have to play against him.
Jamie Spencer disagrees.
Timing of the vote has an impact, sure. Maybe he wouldn't have been included if votes were cast today. But even while United's performances have fallen off a cliff over the last nine games, Pogba still remains their best player. He was key to their initial revival and is almost always the one most likely to make something happen. It was even true in defeat against City.
United would be nowhere near the top four without him. Paul Pogba is not at fault for having players around him who can't reach his level, but because he stands above the rest, the blame always lies at his feet. People always expect more because he's more capable.
There's a good argument for United doing everything they can to keep him from Real Madrid's clutches over the coming months in light of that. He has two years left on his contract and United have the option to extend by a further year, so the club are in a rare position of power here - they don't have to sell if they don't want to.
But they should sell. Manchester United should absolutely sell Paul Pogba this summer.
He may be their prime asset, and it's an admission of inferiority, but it's about time this club took a reality check off the pitch. They've had enough of them on it of late. It's time they accepted that they are inferior to at least three of the five clubs around them, as well as countless teams across Europe.
They need to gut their current squad, rebuild and start again, and that old cliché of taking a step back to take two steps forward rings true here. I count at least ten players who need shifting as soon as possible, and that's only the start.
Pogba being United's best player by a distance is a problem in itself. They are too reliant on his creativity and too dependent on his performances dragging the team forward. United are also too invested in his commercial value - which is very, very large, in fairness - and the transfer in the first place was undoubtedly made with that in mind.
United are not in a position right now though where that approach will wash. A change in strategy needs to be made now (we can say it until we're blue in the face and be no more confident it'll happen) and people who are not Ed Woodward need to start making the decisions about who plays for this club and who doesn't.
Hungry players with desire to prove themselves are needed. Selling Pogba, who could fetch as much as £130m in the current market, should give United money to add to a reported £200m transfer budget. And they need to be signing players of a different profile entirely, so they're able to shift the squad of the character it's stuck with as quickly as they possibly can.
Younger, hungrier players with potential to grow. There's a lot of them about, believe it or not - Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund have been doing it for years and they're not looking too bad - and while it's another (somewhat) submissive move/sign of regression, it's the model to follow.
Pogba is a leader in the dressing room, but not the type this team needs. He's better than the rest, plays like he knows it, and you can't say that his head isn't turned by Real Madrid. His (and United's, coincidence?) performances have dropped off since Zinedine Zidane first declared interest, and Pogba has an agent notorious for chasing a buck and getting in his player's ear.
He also seems to know he's superior to those around him. You can't blame him for that, and keep in mind that's got to be quite frustrating. Ideally that wouldn't be the way a World Cup winning midfielder looks at matters, but that's the reality United are faced with. And when that's your leader, it's a problem.
It's the right decision from the club's point of view, but they also owe it to Pogba too. United don't have the pull that they used to, they're miles away on and off the pitch, and at 26, these will be the peak years of Pogba's career.
Paul Pogba may not be bigger than Manchester United, but he is certainly better than Manchester United.
Source : 90min