Pogba Or Mkhitaryan? Who Will Have A Better Season For Manchester United?
It’s never easy coming to Manchester United for a world-record amount of money, nor is it easy coming for a big buck and receiving criticism from your manager right away. But that is exactly what had happened to Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan respectively. While the former Juventus midfielder was constantly criticised for failing to live up to his colossal price tag, while the Armenian midfielder was repeatedly criticised by Jose Mourinho for being unable to adapt to his system.
As such, despite being extremely talented footballers, both of them had a not-so-noteworthy debut season in the English Premier League. They did impress in Cup Competitions though, especially in the Europa League where Pogba won the Best Player Of The Season Award and Mkhitaryan scored a number of crucial goals, including a memorable backhead goal in the final against Ajax Amsterdam that helped the Red Devils win the Europa League last May.
This season, however, the tale is quite different. United have made an explosive start to the Premier League, having scored 8 goals in 2 matches without reply. Pogba and Mkhitaryan have been at the centre of it all, with the former having scored 2 and the latter having set up 4 of them.
With Lukaku, Martial, and Rashford ripping the opposition defence to shreds up front, these two have hit it off quite well and are likely to continue doing so. So what is it that Mourinho has changed which has caused such improvement in their performances and who is likely to have a better season? Let’s find out.
Matic: The Midfield Maestro
No one knows why Chelsea let go of Nemanja Matic so easily to a direct Premier League rival, but the Serbian has been a key man for the Red Devils in the centre of the park. He acts as a defensive pivot, which allows the likes of Pogba and Mkhitaryan to press higher up the pitch. The Frenchman usually starts as a partner to Matic in the pivot, but inadvertently ends up playing much higher up the pitch in the mold of a box to box midfielder.
His physicality and array of skills make him hard to contain, while Matic does all the dirty work behind him: cleaning up misplaced balls, recycling balls and going in for the crunching tackle every time the opponent gets hold of the ball. Matic’s work ethic has also freed up Mkhitaryan who has exceptional ball control and makes the most incisive movements in the opposition half.
He has started as a number 10 in both the games, but a quick look at his heat map would show that he plays all around the box, dragging players out of position and letting Lukaku find free spaces behind defences. That has paid dividends, with the Belgian striker netting 3 goals in his first 2 starts for the Old Trafford outfit.
Given how Mourinho has set his side up, it is obvious that both Pogba and Mkhitaryan will be playing with a lot more freedom this season, which will reflect on their individual performances. The Portuguese manager will know that both of them will have to complement each other throughout the campaign, just like they have in the first two sets of fixtures. So instead of comparing them against each other, it would be better if we see them as a unit who need to feed off one another if United are to win the title this season.