Rio Ferdinand has branded the criticism aimed at Paul Pogba earlier this season “total nonsense”, with the former Manchester United star claiming to have never had any doubt that a World Cup winner would come good.
Despite helping to lead France to global glory on Russian soil in 2018, a highly-rated midfielder struggled to make his mark on a domestic scene when the current Premier League campaign got underway.
Reports of a rift with then Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho did Pogba’s cause few favours, with the 25-year-old stripped of vice-captaincy duties before eventually being unceremoniously dropped to the bench.
Questions were asked of his form and future as the January transfer window approached, but United acted before the turn of the calendar year to relieve Mourinho of his duties and draft in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Pogba has thrived under a member of United’s 1999 Treble-winning squad, with United’s £89 million ($118m) record signing now delivering the talismanic performances expected of him.
Ferdinand believes such a turnaround was always likely, with the ex-Red Devils defender telling Planet Football: “A lot of people wrote Pogba off, said he wasn’t trying hard enough, said he was not good enough to play for United, but I knew that was nonsense, total nonsense.
“This is a guy who has already won so much in his career, who scored in a World Cup final last summer and people were saying he wasn’t up to the task of playing at the highest level? Give me a break.
“Instead of picking out the negatives and trying to find what Pogba can’t do, find the positives and realise that he is the most effective midfielder in the Premier League when he is played in his proper position and utilised in the right way.
“Ole and Micky [Phelan] didn’t need long to understand how to get the best out of Pogba and almost from the moment they arrived, his performances changed. The same can be said of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and a few others because they are now enjoying their football again.”
Ferdinand believes Pogba now has the potential to help United rediscover the glory days of the past, with Solskjaer’s arrival as interim boss having breathed new life into the club.
He concedes that a number of mistakes have been made in recent seasons, particularly in the transfer market, but there is now the promise of better times to come.
The ex-England international added: “Recruitment has been an issue for United in the last few years, with massive money spent on players who have not worked out.
“The managerial situation has also been a problem, clearly, but the club has a chance to halt the decline now and start to move forward. They have to take this chance.”