Manchester United can’t win the Premier League unless Paul Pogba delivers his very best form for two or three months, believes Gary Neville.
The Frenchman has fought his way back into the team and is beginning to perform well for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Neville thinks the World Cup winner is the kind of player who can raise levels of belief for those around him and make the difference in the title race.
Paul Pogba could make the difference in the title race for Manchester United, says Gary Neville
The former United defender thinks two or three months of top Pogba form would be huge
He said on his podcast: ‘I think Manchester United’s chances of winning this league are slim – Liverpool and Man City are still the best two teams in this league.
‘But the slim chance they have to win this league will depend on something like Paul Pogba delivering a cameo of two or three months of brilliance, which he is capable of.
‘He’s got confidence, he’s got arrogance – good arrogance, in a sense that he believes in himself.
‘He thinks he should be playing in the biggest games in the world, and winning titles, and thinking positive thoughts, thinking you’re the best is a big thing when you’re looking to win.
Pogba had a big chance in the second half at Anfield but his effort was straight at Alisson
‘Just in that last 20 minutes, I felt United just had that little bit of missing belief. It’s not a long way away, but that’s the bit that will stop them winning the title.’
Neville also selected the areas United can improve to win the title.
He continued: ‘We know Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted that right-wing position filled in the summer, and he didn’t get it, and it’s just posing a little bit of a problem. If there was a goalscoring right winger in that squad today, with Rashford and Martial, that I think would be a difference. So a centre-back that gets them up the pitch that 10 yards, and a right winger, they are the two positions I’d focus on.
‘We know Liverpool’s problems were a centre-back and a goalkeeper, and they signed Virgil van Dijk and Alisson. Manchester United just need that little bit of belief, and a couple extra players, and they’re not as far away as it looks if City and Liverpool stay at this standard and don’t jump back up to that 100-point standard.’
Solskjaer needs to strengthen in some areas as Liverpool did when they signed Alisson
Pogba missed one of the best chances in the game against Liverpool in Sunday’s stalemate.
Afterwards, Roy Keane reflected on Sky Sports that the midfielder passed up the opportunity to be the main man.
He said: ‘You can tell by his (Pogba’s) reaction. The first touch is excellent but oh my God. He has to score. Go across the goalkeeper, he can do that (looking at the defender).
‘His first touch was so good, he’s given himself the opportunity to go across. But credit to the goalkeeper, he stood up and made himself big. That was the chance you were praying for before the game.
‘You can’t say Liverpool are playing badly but they’ve lost their spark. When you get opportunities like Pogba’s, (you must be) so disappointed. We gave him a big build-up and that was the moment for him to be the main man, you have to take that chance. I won’t be too critical of United.’
Roy Keane believes Paul Pogba missed his moment to be the ‘main man’ for Manchester United
Despite the miss, Pogba had a difficult task in general as he was played out of position
Neville was more forgiving of Pogba’s performance as a whole at Anfield as he was put out of position.
He added: ‘I thought it was tough for him on Sunday. I’ve seen it over the years, where Sir Alex Ferguson had to put Wayne Rooney or Danny Welbeck out on that right-hand side, and it’s not easy when you don’t play there, to play there.
‘It’s easier to come off the left onto your right and slip inside, but it’s not natural for them on that right wing, so I thought he was given a tough gig on Sunday in terms of his natural position.
‘If you asked Paul Pogba: you can play any position in midfield or any up front, that’s the one he wouldn’t pick, right of midfield. I didn’t criticise his performance at Anfield because I thought it was a tough gig – the same with Rashford, who prefers to play on the left – but I do think he can have a big influence on United.’
The draw at Anfield means United remain three points ahead of Liverpool, two ahead of Leicester and two ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
The stalemate at Anfield means that United remain three points clear of Liverpool