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Why do people think Pogba doesn't run much?

Discussion in 'Manchester United Forum' started by Brwned, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. Feb 24, 2018
    #1

    Brwned Have you ever been in love before?

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    It doesn't seem to stack up very well with the figures that I've come across, nor with my own subjective impression when watching games. Which makes this kind of attitude kind of puzzling to me...
    At best, what many people are saying is to let him play like Zidane or Yaya Toure, not to have Messi-like* freedom in midfield.

    Toure would be in many people's lists for one of the best midfielders in PL history, at his peak. As far as I can see the conversation people are having about Pogba now is almost exactly the same as the one about Toure a few years ago, other than the fact Pogba's about 5 years younger and has immaturity added on top. Thankfully he also has more talent, and hopefully he's more receptive to coaching.

    The below article is a really good summary on some of the facts about Toure's running - it paints a much more nuanced picture of the story than many of us really consider. Some of the figures are surprising, some illuminating, and ultimately what it shows is there are pros and cons to the approach and it depends on the manager to decide how to weigh the up. The similarities to Pogba are very apparent.

    http://www.skysports.com/football/n...s-and-the-truth-behind-his-man-city-work-rate


    I don't know where you can find distance covered stats for the whole season, but here's his distance covered stats in the UCL. It works out at about 10.7km per 90 mins, which is more than Toure in 15/16 (10.4km) and in between the likes of Fernandinho (10.9km) and Casemiro (10.5km) this season. I think that seems like a fair reflection of their average distance covered in all games, rather than that sample. It'd be interesting to see the sprint figures to add more nuance to the story in the way it did for Toure in the above. I think Pogba's probably not doing so bad on that front either.

    If you look here, de Bruyne is covering about 12km per 90 mins, so there's no question that attacking players can contribute more as individuals (which based on the above statistics, has always been one of de Bruyne's strengths) and systems and managers can get that bit more out of players (which is evidently one of Guardiola's strengths).

    I think it's reasonable to expect Pogba and Mourinho to improve on the latter. The way we're currently set up simply doesn't demand players to cover the kind of ground Guardiola teams do. I don't think it's reasonable to expect Pogba to improve on the former. Some players just aren't built that way. The idea that Pogba is the only player that has ever been afforded the luxury of running less than their midfield partners is absolutely ludicrous.

    *For the record, Messi runs about 8km per game these days. The intensity of their running is very different, but it's worth establishing just how wide that range of distance covered is. 8km for Messi, 12km for de Bruyne - I'd imagine they're at the upper and lower limits. Pogba is much closer to the upper limit.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  2. Feb 24, 2018
    #2

    roonster09 Full Member

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    Because of his casual running style. So many people fall for this.
  3. Feb 24, 2018
    #3

    Keeps It tidy Hates Messi

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    Because of his height and pace people often expect to be an all action box to box midfielder like Vieira or have the powerful running and goals of someone like Yaya and Pogba is neither.
  4. Feb 24, 2018
    #4

    AngliaRed Full Member

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    He’s got a casual laid back running style which doesn’t look asif he’s sprinting when he’s chasing back whereas you look when he’s bounding forward it appears that he’s putting 10% more effort into his sprint.

    I’m not fussed how he run or if he’s pally with the opposition as long as he’s doing the business for us. Other than De Gea he’s still been our best player this season.
  5. Feb 24, 2018
    #5

    abdo99 Full Member City Lover

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    He appears to be slow on the pitch because he's the one of those players the game slows down for. A bit like Ozil in the way he glides across the pitch. It's a matter of quality not effort. Also his running style is weird. He doesn't need to many strides to cover ground because of his longer legs. Like Usain Bolt. When he does the 100m although he is faster than everyone else it still looks like he is conserving energy to win.
  6. Feb 24, 2018
    #6

    septic Full Member

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    i dont care whether he runs or not. we dont pay him to run. we pay him for his overall play and final product.
  7. Feb 24, 2018
    #7

    MadDogg Full Member

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    It's mostly about when he's coming back after we've lost the ball, often he's just casually jogging back (and no it's not just his running style) and leaving Matic to deal with two or three opposition midfielders who are all rushing forward fast. It's the kind of thing which can be done if he is playing in a Zidane or Toure role in a three man midfield where they are obviously the more offensive of the three, not so much in a two man midfield (or if he's supposed to be one of the deeper players in a three).

    Toure is a good example. It's one of the reasons why City were always better with him in that slightly more offensive role. Yes he could play in a two (or as one of the deeper ones), but the balance was never quite right. Much like we're finding with Pogba. If he's playing in a midfield two he needs to work harder to get back and cover the midfielders of the other team.
  8. Feb 24, 2018
    #8

    Rifer Full Member

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    During our attacking phase? He runs a lot, long distance sprinting, big distance covered.
    During our defending phase? Not so much, hence the issue.

    When we need to play him as CDM (for tactical reasons or because our other midfielders are off form/injured), he doesn't cover enough distance and effort to drop back when defending i.e. when our team doesn't have the ball. Especially against top teams where this is vital, it can be costly. Did fine actually, when up against small teams.

    Running style is fine.
  9. Feb 24, 2018
    #9

    Varun Moderator Staff

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    It's the intensity of the running rather than the distance that people talk about I believe. He's languid at the best of times. That said, our system doesn't demand the intensity of say City's so comparisons to the likes of de bruyne will always be futile
  10. Feb 24, 2018
    #10

    Rifer Full Member

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    Wait, are people seriously criticizing his running style?!

    When he's on a running stride, he's amazing, full of intensity, strong attacking intent.
  11. Feb 24, 2018
    #11

    worldinmotion66 Full Member Scouse Lover

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    It's frustrating when an attacker runs past him and he doesn't bust a gut to get back and make a challenge.

    Running stats will show that he covers a decent distance, he's just got to be more conservative with his attacking runs when on a two man midfield. If he had a bit of mettle, discipline and defensive drive, he'd be the best holding midfielder in the world. It's frustrating that he has all of the ingredients but the most teachable traits just aren't materialising.

    He could easily become our next Carrick but with more mobility, better passing range and the ability to drive forward, but his Hollywood attitude and selfish desire to do everything himself will always hold him back
  12. Feb 24, 2018
    #12

    Snow Somewhere down the lane, a licky boom boom down

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    I think it's because pundits say so and people copy that feeling or come to the same conclusion on their own. Generally if you use logic and facts there is less outrage to be had.
  13. Feb 24, 2018
    #13

    Brwned Have you ever been in love before?

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    They were more solid when Toure played in a midfield three, but Toure played the majority of his games in a title winning season in a midfield two. Just look at the last four games of the season in 11/12, crunch time in the season when they won the league on goal difference. Pellegrini played the exact same lineup against QPR, Newcastle, United and Wolves.

    Hart
    Zabaleta Kompany Lescott Clichy
    Barry Toure
    Silva Tevez Nasri
    Aguero

    Was he exposed at times? Certainly. But I think people have rewritten history about where he played and how he was accommodated. In some seasons he played mostly in the advanced role, in others he played mostly in centre mid. In both cases there were issues. Toure's most memorable season happened to be when he scored loads of worldies when playing behind the forward, but in 11/12 he was one of the best players in the league in a very traditional central midfield role. Barry had to do more dirty work than he would have liked and the defence was more exposed than when De Jong was in there alongside him, but Toure dictated the play against many teams and showed he could play there to a very high level.

    It's not like the entire team was built around him, or the players that he was exposing were outrageously good. He was playing in front of Joleon Lescott and beside Gareth Barry.

    The reality is that you can be a midfielder who is much more purposeful running forwards than backwards, and still function as a centre mid in a less than exceptional team. Toure proved that. You just have to be aware of the issues that it brings with it. There are lots of potential upsides to it. Being able to squeeze in Silva, Tevez, Aguero and Nasri was what allowed them to play the kind of free flowing football that saw them score more goals than the highest scoring United side this century, which ultimately played a pivotal role in them winning the league. With Martial, Sanchez, Lukaku and Mata/Rashford/Lingard, the potential upsides are there for us too.
  14. Feb 24, 2018
    #14

    The Don Metrosexual Candy Shagger

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    I think people want him to be as aggressive at trying to win the ball back, as he is in possession. On the ball, he looks like a beast, without it, not so much. Might be a tad unfair on him, as that is not what his game is about. He has the attributes and potential to be a midfield general but I think he sees himself as more of a flair player.
  15. Feb 24, 2018
    #15

    Keeps It tidy Hates Messi

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    From all we have seen from Pogba in his career why would you want him as a holding midfielder?
  16. Feb 24, 2018
    #16

    BAMSOLA Has issues!

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    Because he lacks the discipline and knowledge at times to retreat with haste into defensively sound positions.

    This is a temperament, aptitude and positional knowledge problem which is easily solved by considering him an ACM who needs two more defensively disciplined players to player alongside. He runs perfectly well in aid of attacking runs for his team both off the ball and on it but his lack of willingness to "bust a lung" getting back into defensive positions and his lack of willingness to use his physical stature in a more opposing way in defensive situations is an aptitude and defensive positioning issue as he is simply unsuited to that role in much the same way as asking KDB to shoulder the same type of responsibly would prove unsuccessful. Both players are more than capable of pressing the opposition player in possession - as a matter of fact Pogba is better in this respect than KDB - however both are not players who have a great wealth of knowledge about how to take up a robust defensive shape the difference between the two is that nobody really expect that of KDB where as people seem to absolutely expect that of Pogba.

    Paul has all the elegance and ability of a top level ACM much like KDB, but the fact that people consider him a box to box CM or a player capable of a great level of defensive responsibility may be down to a misreading of how he uses his strength and size and possibly a little bit of (perhaps non malicious) stereotyping of him as the type of physical CM of African descent that we are used to seeing in the likes of Veira and Kante in recent years (two slightly different but still defensive CMs) . He is not that player and I've always said he is closer in style of play to Zidane in his later years who did start as a CM but was moved to ACM during the later half of his career.

    When you have a player of Pogba's attacking ability its actually a waste to expect him to hold position in the way that we seem to be asking him to at times, you should actually want him slightly higher up the pitch even in positions where the opposition are in possession as he is a very good counter attacking weapon.

    Its a misunderstanding of the type of player he is to say he should be busting a lung to get back into the type of positions that more defensively minded CM's are often expected to, just because of his physique that does not make him a midfielder suited to robust defensive positioning, his defensive responsibility should be a more proactive than reactive one and he should be pressing the player in possession of the ball rather than falling back into defensive shape.

    Sadly its a very true statement that he would fair better in a traditional Guardiola set up than he currently does in the way Mourinho utilizes him as Guardiola would simply play him as the closest central midfielder to his striker meaning he plays as the most advances CM in a 4-3-3 (the same role Jose gave to Lampard) or as the one behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1. He is not suited to playing in a CM 2 due to his defensive positioning.
  17. Feb 24, 2018
    #17

    dogwithabone Full Member

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    A small footballer will always look busier on the pitch because he has to scamper around to cover the ground whereas a player with long limbs like Pogba will cover just as much ground but in a more languid way which looks less busy.
  18. Feb 24, 2018
    #18

    Steven7290 Full Member

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    I think it is not the point that he doesn't run much, but more about where he is running to.
  19. Feb 24, 2018
    #19

    Brwned Have you ever been in love before?

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    Well if you try and match that up with the numbers, either he makes offensive runs more than anyone else in the history of the game, or he runs quite a lot in both phases of play and is just more purposeful when we're in possession. Because the reality is he covers about as much ground as Fernandinho. Given the fact we average less than 60% possession, quite a lot of that ground covered would have to be the mundane, repetitive, largely unnoticed shuffling back and forth in the middle third when out of possession. And the occasional sprint back which, because it doesn't end in a tackle, is entirely forgettable.

    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  20. Feb 24, 2018
    #20

    SadlerMUFC Full Member

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    It's not about running or lack there of. It's about positional awareness. Pogba is "supposed" to be playing beside Matic in a 4-2-3-1 but often finds himself out on the left flank when we are attacking. That means when we lose possession he is way out of position. This is why if we insist on playing a 4-2-3-1 I would much rather see Pogba in the #10 than in the #6. Ideally he is a #8 but Mourinho just doesn't want to play a formation that uses a #8...
  21. Feb 24, 2018
    #21

    roonster09 Full Member

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    No one plays like that. When in possession our shape would be different from even we defend.
  22. Feb 24, 2018
    #22

    SadlerMUFC Full Member

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    Sorry, but I don't understand what you mean. Nobody plays like what? With a #8?
  23. Feb 24, 2018
    #23

    roonster09 Full Member

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    When we attack midfielders won't be central holding position.
  24. Feb 24, 2018
    #24

    SadlerMUFC Full Member

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    If you are playing as a central midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 you should be. That's the problem...
  25. Feb 24, 2018
    #25

    Jeppers7 New Member

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    He's nothing like Carrick, if he only goes on to become a Carrick type-quality player we have badly wasted him. The rewrite of history on Carrick is bizarre, are we saying Carrick never had bad games ? Was a defensive beast ? He crumbled in many big games when teams put pressure on him. He mostly played a role in a successful team but was never the catalyst. He had poor seasons never mind games. But yeah Pogba should aspire to his level
  26. Feb 24, 2018
    #26

    Cliche Guevara Full Member

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    Are there stats from when the ball is 5 yards from him and he doesn’t sprint to win it?

    Or stats from when he loses the ball and the whole team busts a gut to cover and he just watches?

    Or stats on when he could burst into the box, and get on the end of a pass, but just watches?

    I think he’s ill at the moment, and feel he will become a top box-to-box, but he still has work to do.
  27. Feb 24, 2018
    #27

    Jeppers7 New Member

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    You can see at the game who is running and who isn't. There's never been a murmur inside Old Trafford about Pogbas workrate. Lukaku is the only one who seems to 'conserve energy'. This whole issue on Pogba has come from two games. Beyond that he's been along with De Gea our best player this season.
  28. Feb 24, 2018
    #28

    iluvurmummy Full Member

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    I think Pogba needs to make it as a #10 or we need to feck him off.

    Controversial.

    But he needs to start pulling out stats that back his position. Or feck him off cos he clearly doesn’t wanna be a midfielder.
  29. Feb 24, 2018
    #29

    Cliche Guevara Full Member

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    I think this is the problem with a lot of posters:

    1- They both don’t have to, and certainly not at Man Utd

    2- That’s not Jose’s plan. Pogba is a box-to-box in a two. Licence/responsibility to roam and attack when we have the ball but required to get back into position when we don’t.

    He’s absolutely capable of doing this. He has all the ingredients. He’s already shown he can do it.

    Pogba might not understand that he’s been given a massive role as a player, and is central to team performance. Nobody should see this as a restriction, more an opportunity to be the main man at the biggest club in the world.
  30. Feb 24, 2018
    #30

    kouroux 45k posts to finally achieve this tagline

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    Do other tall midfielders give this impression too ?
  31. Feb 24, 2018
    #31

    RooneyLegend Full Member

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    They should make distance covered stats in possession and out of possession to paint a better picture. Don't see why you'd use Yaya as a reference. Doesn't make sense to use a player who's accused of the same thing to prove that he isn't the same as him. Comparing his stats to someone like Dembele who has pretty much the perfect defensive game for an 8 would go a long way.

    The biggest issue with Pogba is he isn't busting a gut when he needs to. He does break into a sprint every now and again and looks very active when we're going forward but playing in midfield he has to get back into position so we're not vulnerable. A quality 8 defensively is also great at covering fullbacks and attackers when needed. He doesn't seem to ever track a runner. Never seems to put pressure on opposition mids. I'd say his biggest problem isn't really being lazy more a case of him doing it all wrong. The space in behind him is an issue, not much of an issue if we have a very conservative game plan but in games where we play more offensively, it's a bomb-scare.
  32. Feb 24, 2018
    #32

    Rifer Full Member

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    Interesting, many similarities there, so there are actually 'good reasons' why Mourinho persist with 4-2-3-1 and sometimes the 4-3-3.

    With Pogba, we are more exposed more, yet it doesn't matter since with our and Pogba's attacking qualities, we can outscore and outbeat teams.

    Can we accept Pogba is off form in recent games now? (Around end of Jan to end of February) since his form earlier seasons as CDM alongside Matic is that good.
  33. Feb 24, 2018
    #33

    POF Full Member

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    The issue is not that Pogba doesn't run much or cover a lot of ground. Pogba is a freakish athlete and could run all day. He clearly has the athleticism to play any role in midfield. The issue with Pogba is when he doesn't track runners because he couldn't be arsed.

    Toure is a fantastic example. He successfully played the Busquets role for Barca pre-Busquets, he was excellent in a midfield 2 next to a more defensive partner like Barry, De Jong, Fernandinho etc and also excelled at number 10 when played there for City. Nobody slated the manager for playing him in a variety of midfield positions because "he cannot play there".

    When he played in those various roles, he adapted his game an did a great job for the team. He ended up playing a lot at number 10 because he was incredibly productive in attacking areas and earned his spot there.

    So Yaya Toure, football mercenary at loads'a'money Man City, who had a massive sulk over not being given a birthday cake was happy to check his ego at the door and do a job for the team in a multitude of midfield roles. Paul Pogba, talisman and future captain of Manchester United, one of the biggest clubs in world football has a sulk because the manager won't play him in a specific role in a specific formation every week.
  34. Feb 24, 2018
    #34

    Eddy_JukeZ Full Member

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    He has a habit of sometimes not tracking runners.

    He just switches off defensively, so that's where the 'not running' claims come from IMO.
  35. Feb 24, 2018
    #35

    Rifer Full Member

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    Understandable, but off form recent games, like all our attackers, hit-and-miss forms.

    No need to be holding midfielder, not his kind of game.

    Totally different player to Carrick. Only few similarity: Wide passing range, passing accuracy and driving forward passes.
  36. Feb 24, 2018
    #36

    roonster09 Full Member

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    They have to. CMs drifting wide to attack and link up is very common tactic.
  37. Feb 24, 2018
    #37

    Buchan has whacked the hammer to Roswell

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    I agree with the points @Brwned has made in the OP but I, for one, am sick and tired of the incessant Pogba discussion/criticism in the media (and discussion boards) this past month. No other player gets scrutinised to the nth like Pogba. No other player is criticised so incessantly for their playing style as he is. No other player has their great performances chalked off with such remarkable ease ("He cost £90m, you expect to see that.")

    It really is grating at this point. The player himself - like most players - must be well aware of it too (look at Lukaku's Instagram post yesterday re: 'haters'). We're going through a poor run of performances of late yet Pogba seems to be the one carrying the can for all that. It's absolutely preposterous.
  38. Feb 24, 2018
    #38

    RooneyLegend Full Member

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    You'd never get the feeling watching Vieira or Dembele, pretty sure about that.
  39. Feb 24, 2018
    #39

    Hawks2008 Full Member

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    Because much like the rest of our squad he plays with 0 intensity.
  40. Feb 24, 2018
    #40

    iluvurmummy Full Member

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    It’s true, he is the most scrutinised player in the league by far - and unfairly at that. Tbh, if I saw consistent desire from him, I’d defend him to the ends of the earth (like I used to). He single handedly carried our midfield creativity before he got injured.

    Fact is, he is world class. When he’s on his game, he’ll press, win back the ball, feint dummy make space one two sublime pass that turns in to a piss easy finish. Honestly, that’s the talent he is.

    I just get pissed cos I don’t see that hunger enough. He’s a poser at times man.