Paul Pogba has “always need an arm around him”, says Bryan Robson, with the Manchester United midfielder finally getting the comfort he craves from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after bearing the brunt of Jose Mourinho’s “conflict”.
Two-and-a-half years working under the Portuguese coach saw an £89 million ($115m) signing struggle to deliver value for money at Old Trafford, with questions regularly asked of his attitude and contribution to the cause.
A change in the dugout has, however, offered the World Cup-winning midfielder a clean slate and he is thriving under the guidance of a coach prepared to offer him freedom to express himself on and off the field.
Robson believes a more considered approach to managing a prized asset will continue to deliver rich rewards for United, with Solskjaer having shown how to coax the best out of an enigmatic talent.
The former Red Devils captain told the Daily Mail: “Paul Pogba's resurgence shows that he always needed an arm around him.
“Conflict is never a good backdrop at any football club and it certainly wasn’t working for Paul under Jose Mourinho. Indeed, conflict wasn’t working for any of the players at Manchester United.
“Paul had a large slice of it, but he wasn’t alone in taking the brunt and it was inevitable that the managerial change was made.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knew Paul from working as United’s reserve-team coach years ago and quickly identified that, for all the front and bravado, if you like, Paul needed an arm around him and reassurance that he was still valued.
“As a result, Paul is looking like the world-class player we thought we’d signed from Juventus, and Manchester United are a better team.
“His touch and pass for Marcus Rashford’s winner against Tottenham was the piece of skill that made the difference.
“Don’t get me wrong, a world-class goalkeeping performance from David de Gea was the bedrock and Rashford’s finish was excellent, but that special moment from Pogba won the game. In the top games, top players make the difference.”
Robson added: “Paul has an edge about him but all top players need that to survive. I believe his temperament is excellent when you consider what he takes.
“Ole’s knowledge of the person Paul is has helped make him feel loved again.
“Some world-class players need that. It’s hard for others to understand that you can have all the adulation in the world but if you don’t have it from the people that matter around you, you don’t perform. Paul has that now and United look a different proposition for it.”
Pogba has recorded four goals in five appearances since Solskjaer inherited the United reins from Mourinho, with that contribution helping the new man at the helm to oversee a run of six successive victories across all competitions.