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Didier Deschamps challenges Paul Pogba: “He can do better”

France comfortably beat Bulgaria 4-1 on Friday night but the Manchester United midfielder was once again disappointing.


France got their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track on Friday night with a comfortable 4-1 win over Bulgaria. Atlético Madrid teammates Antoine Griezmann (goal and assist) and Kevin Gameiro (two goals) were superb but once again Paul Pogba failed to impress.

Pogba unimpressive in the holding role

Pogba, who re-joined Manchester United from Juventus in the summer for a world record fee, started in a 4-4-2 formation and played alongside Blasie Matuidi in a holding role, a slightly deeper position than he’s used to. Coach Didier Deschamp’s thinking was to give the team extra defensive security through the middle, but Pogba came up short. Deschamps called him out during the post-match press conference.

Pogba failed to impress during France's 4-1 win over Bulgaria
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Pogba failed to impress during France's 4-1 win over BulgariaAFP

He can and should be doing better,” said the coach following the game. “When he has defensive responsibilities like that it’s not ideal for him. He’s more about creating. But he has the ability to do things well. Today he did some things well, other things not so well…”

Not the first time that Pogba has attracted criticism

It’s not the first time that Deschamps has challenged the young midfielder. Pogba attracted a wave of criticism after his poor start to Euro 2016. His mixed form was attributed to uncertainty over his future – and talk of a move to either Manchester United or Real Madrid – but Deschamps urged him to ignore the media chatter: “He should be calm; we need him at his best.”

One player did defend Pogba following his poor performance on Friday. Antoine Griezmann, a close friend, told the press that he had no doubts over the midfielder’s ability.

“He plays a different style here than he does with Juventus or Manchester United,” he said. “It’s about playing for the team and it takes time. You journalists ask about him too much, every game. Like me, and like the whole team, he just needs a bit of love.”

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