Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has branded Paul Pogba “a leader” and insists he wouldn’t think twice about handing him the Manchester United captaincy after being stripped of the deputy role by Jose Mourinho earlier this season.
Pogba regularly led United out during Mourinho’s reign, including three times at the beginning of 2018-19 before the Portuguese decided that he would never again hand the Frenchman the armband as their relationship became frosty.
“The only truth is that I made the decision for Paul not to be the second captain any more,” said Mourinho in September 2018. “It was exactly the same person who decided Paul was the second captain: myself. No fallout at all, just decisions I do not have to explain.”
But now caretaker-manager Solskjaer insists he would have no issue asking Pogba to lead out the side, having seen since his days as the midfielder’s boss at reserve level that there is a leadership quality about him.
“He’s a character, he influences people and you’ve seen the videos from France, and he cares and he really wants to be successful. He knows he can’t do it by himself, it’s a team game and he’s a character that brings so many good things with him when he’s enjoying himself.
“You see the personality. He loves playing football, he’s a larger-than-life character, that’s just the way he is.
“When the performances come as well, that marries together as a good leader and you see what it meant to him winning the World Cup. So for me, yes, he’s captain material.”
Having played under plenty of captains during his spell as a United player from 1996 to 2007, Solskjaer believes there are many different ways to lead a side.
“I’ve had all sorts of captains, you had Eric [Cantona] who was captain when I came, who wasn’t very outspoken but he led by example. Then you get, of course, Keano [Roy Keane] who was a fantastic captain. Gary [Neville] was a different captain, he was more vocal and Giggsy [Ryan Giggs] at times was also a good captain in the way of when he spoke, you listened.
“We’ve had some iconic captains here with Steve Bruce and Bryan Robson, so personalities… big personalities. I think that’s important, that you’re not afraid of standing in front of your team-mates and putting them in their place if you have to. And I have to be fair to Ash [Ashley Young], who’s now our skipper, he’s maybe one of the last old-school ones, he sounds like Rio [Ferdinand] and Gary and all them.”
Meanwhile, Solskjaer cleared up the current pecking order, saying Antonio Valencia will continue to be club captain despite having missed a lot of football due to injury of late.
“Ashley’s wearing the armband, yes, because Antonio’s struggled with fitness," he said.
“Antonio’s still the club captain, but Ash is wearing the armband when he’s playing. I’ve never been a fan of ‘You’re this and you’re that’. There are 11 captains out there really, it doesn’t really bother me.”