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'Like a shotgun in two feet' - Saha defends Pogba as he blames poor transfers for Man Utd's issues

15:59 EAT 15/10/2019
Paul Pogba Manchester United 2019-20
A former frontman at Old Trafford believes bad business has been carried out in recent windows, with the price now being paid for mismanagement

It is “unfair” to expect Paul Pogba to carry Manchester United, says fellow Frenchman Louis Saha, with the Red Devils considered to have shot themselves in the foot with some questionable recruitment.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer oversaw a change in approach over the summer which saw those at Old Trafford favour emerging home-grown talent over ready-made foreign fancies.

That philosophy is expected to serve United well in time, but patience is going to be required in a rebuilding job which could take several years to complete.

Saha hopes patience will be shown as too much is currently being expected of players struggling for form as part of a greater collective problem at the Theatre of Dreams.

The former Red Devils striker told The Athletic: “Now, you look, and the excuse is, ‘Pogba hasn’t played.’ It is crazy to put a club in this position. I’m sorry but you can’t put the blame on [Marcus] Rashford, you can’t put the blame on [Anthony] Martial, you can’t put the blame on the newcomers.

“Who is big enough in that squad to be saying, ‘This is falling down’? Apart from Pogba. It is unfair on him, unfair on the squad. It is right that I hear Gary Neville complain about the chemistry that has been built. You could put any manager in right now; I’m sorry, he will struggle.

“You can say, alright he should not have allowed [Romelu] Lukaku and [Alexis] Sanchez to leave but the damage was already done because those guys didn’t want to stay. So it is better to actually clean up in some ways, let’s say, with respect.

“But the actual power of the United history, the United set-up, has been fettered by three or four transfer windows. It was like a shotgun in two feet. They put themselves in that situation, not giving the platform to fight back.”

Saha added on what needs to be done: “There are no indicators of what should be happening at certain times in the game, so it is a struggle for a manager to implement that in one go. It will take one year to actually fix that. It is really hard.

“It takes time. Give him the budget every manager has had to get the right players. You have to pay whatever you have to pay. I would say he has been courageous to let Lukaku and Sanchez go. He put himself in danger because people start to criticise. But that was the right move.

“In six years, the board have changed strategy, changed managers. Now it is more for the youth. Before it was like ‘guaranteed’ players.

“But you are losing the tag of Champions League, so it is harder; not getting [Paulo] Dybala, for example. Those guys want Champions League because they want to play for their national team. It is a vicious cycle.”

Saha believes that the mindset of players in the modern era is also to blame for the struggles being endured by United, with too many no longer fully committed to events on the field.

The former France international added: “It is not just about the squad of United. Players now have a sense of the individual. They look for themselves a bit more. It is down to social media. My account, my this, my that. Players have more followers than clubs, so it means how much power they have. It changed.

“We have a duty to educate, and target the players who can really understand the sacrifice for the team. The United squad, when you look, I don’t think there are definite captains. Who is out there to help define the rules?

“You learn from your own eyes. I don’t think they have, with no disrespect, the players of individual talent and desire. Sometimes, to be pushed, you need to see someone who is doing something outside the box. ‘Woah, this guy is working two times [more than] normal.’”

United, with just nine points to their name from eight Premier League games this season, will be hoping to find a spark to ignite their 2019-20 campaign when they return to domestic action on Sunday with a home date against arch-rivals Liverpool.