Paul Pogba lacks discipline defensively: Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane

The Red Devils legend believes Pogba's attacking abilities are unquestionable, but he is critical of his defensive performances as France exit Euro 2020.

Paul Pogba scores a screamer for France against Switzerland; Credit: Twitter@EURO2020
By Karthik Raman | Jun 29, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

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Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane was critical of Paul Pogba’s defensive contribution after France were knocked out of the Euro 2020. The defending world champions were expected to be one favourites to lift the Euro trophy. After falling short in the final against Portugal in 2016, Didier Deschamps’ side were expected to go one step further in this year’s competition. But they blew away a massive advantage on Monday to crash out of the tournament. Switzerland, which took the lead, found themselves 1-3 down in the second half, but they scored two late goals within the 90 minutes to send the game into extra-time, which eventually reached the penalty shootout.

Talented PSG forward Kylian Mbappe was the only man to miss in the shootout, allowing Switzerland to reach the quarterfinals at the expense of the current World Cup winners. The Swiss will next play Spain in the last-8 of the competition. Pogba was one of the players instrumental in France’s comeback in the second half, scoring an unstoppable curling shot from long range. But, Keane was not happy with Pogba’s performance on the other end of the pitch as Switzerland scored two late goals to take the match into extra time before winning it in penalties.

“I’d be looking at the goal they conceded in injury time, where he was really sloppy in midfield. That’s the bit I would be critical of,” Keane told ITV Sport. “That seems harsh because he has done some brilliant stuff. There is no doubting Paul’s quality, but it is just the other stuff, his maturity. We’ve mentioned all that. United have had all the problems as well, can he play in a two in midfield, he probably can’t because he doesn’t have the discipline.”

‘Paul doesn’t do that’

Pogba enjoyed a good spell at Juventus early in his career before returning to Old Trafford. Keane went on to explain the reason behind the French midfielder enjoying a positive outing in Italy. “He was at his best in Juventus where he had a bit more freedom and was probably surrounded by more men and characters, they had better quality players,” he elaborated.

The former Manchester United midfielder, however, believes Pogba lacks “discipline defensively”. “Even tonight, he leaves you frustrated,” Keane added. “For all of the brilliant qualities going forward, I still think he lacks discipline defensively. That’s the key (to go to the next level). The top players do it week in, week out. Paul doesn’t do that.”

Former France and Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira concurred with Keane’s statements. Vieira was a commanding figure in the middle of the park during his playing days. He was good with possession and was equally effective without the ball, closing down the opponents to help his teammates. “I completely agree,” said Vieira. “When you look at his potential, what he can do in midfield, you expect more from him.”

Vieira believes Pogba can offer a lot more to the team than what he has done till now. He also feels that the current Manchester United midfielder would play differently had he played alongside someone like Roy Keane. “If he played next to Roy he would maybe be a different player because he needs someone on his back putting him under pressure and being demanding of him. It is frustrating because he can give much more than what he is giving to the team,” he added.

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