Better players than Paul Pogba have been left out of Manchester United sides in the past and it is the Frenchman’s responsibility to respond positively, club legend Gary Neville has told Goal.
But while rumours of a breakdown in the relationship between the manager and his club-record signing continue, former skipper Neville insists Pogba’s exclusion is the kind of personality test that many United greats have had to withstand in the past.
“It’s a tough one for Pogba to take because he’s been left out of a big match, but I was at United for 20 years and saw players left out of matches sometimes – players who were probably better than Paul Pogba,” Neville told Goal.
“He shouldn’t take it as an offence, he should knuckle down as all great players and great characters do when they get dropped, to fight harder and make their way into the team.
“Over the last 10-15 years you think of Wayne Rooney who’s been dropped, he was one of the greatest players United have had. Other players, Nemanja Vidic at times, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, myself, all players who have played 400, 500, 600 games for the club have been dropped.
“There’s no given you’re going to play in the team, everyone has to accept it’s going to come to them and you’re going to be dropped and that can be at different parts of your career.”
Neville was speaking at the Vimto Salford Challenge, celebrating a new partnership between local fruit juice giants Vimto and the Salford City side he co-owns with Giggs, Scholes, Nicky Butt and his brother Phil. And he added that while Pogba’s travails have piqued everybody’s interest, the rise of McTominay shines a light on one of United’s greatest strengths as a club.
“The headline out of the game the other night in Seville was obviously that Pogba was dropped but I was delighted that McTominay played, and that Jose Mourinho had faith in a player to go into a really difficult atmosphere in Sevilla and to give him that trust and faith was a really big move.
“It was suggested that Jose Mourinho wouldn’t give young players a chance but to leave out your record signing and play a kid from your academy in one of his first big games, I would say, is just an incredible show of faith.
“It’s great for McTominay and great for the academy at United so that young players think they can come in and get a chance in the biggest games. That’s what the club has always been about and where I think it stands apart.”United return to Premier League action on Sunday when they host Mourinho’s former club Chelsea at Old Trafford.