Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "doesn't totally trust" Paul Pogba, according to Michael Owen, who has questioned his decision to deploy the midfielder in a wide role.
Pogba lined up on the left-hand side of an attacking quartet for United once again during their 3-1 win at Aston Villa on Sunday, with Scott McTominay and Fred preferred in the centre of midfield.
Solskjaer has opted for that set-up more often than not in big matches this term, leaving Owen convinced that the Norwegian lacks confidence in Pogba's defensive abilities.
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What's been said?
The former United striker also feels that Edinson Cavani, who came off the bench to score the third goal against Villa, is seeing his playing time restricted due to the way Solskjaer is handling Pogba at the moment.
"I know every Manchester United fan around the world would agree: get Paul Pogba in alongside one sitting midfield player," Owen told Premier League Productions.
"Then you can get an extra body going forward, the likes of [Edinson] Cavani and you can put [Bruno] Fernandes in behind with the two normal wide players.
"However, as it is, you have to put Cavani on the bench because you don’t trust Pogba in the middle as a sitting midfielder so you have to stick him out wide. It’s a conundrum.
"Whenever they play against a very good side, he [Solskjaer] goes back to basics. He goes back to thinking, 'I need those two protective midfield players'.
"When he’s playing an average team at home, he’ll go and play all his stars. He lets the shackles off.
"But I don’t think he totally trusts Pogba in that role as a centre midfield player alongside one of them."
Pogba's record for United in 2020-21
Pogba has missed a total of 14 games due to injuries this term, but has been a regular feature in Solskjaer's starting line-up when available.
The Frenchman's latest outing at Villa marked his 39th appearance across all competitions, and he has also managed to record six goals and eight assists.
The bigger picture
Despite being forced to adjust to an unnatural position, Pogba has still played a key role in United's rise to second in the Premier League and progression to the Europa League final.
His continued presence will likely be crucial as the Red Devils seek to finish the season strongly, but his long-term future remains up in the air.
Pogba is fast approaching the final year of his contract with little sign of an extension being tabled, and he's been heavily linked with Real Madrid in recent months.