Rio Ferdinand has backed Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba to silence his doubters ahead of Monday’s mouth-watering Premier League clash against Liverpool at Anfield.
Pogba has struggled to live up to huge expectations following his world record £89m back to United from Juventus in August, with criticism flowing for a Frenchman who will take centre-stage in Monday night’s Premier League showdown with Liverpool at Anfield.
Yet United legend Ferdinand is convinced his old club have made a shrewd investment in paying out such a huge sum to bring Pogba back to Old Trafford, as he is convinced he has the temperament to deal with the expectations of being the most expensive player in the game.
“I would not have any worries about Paul Pogba,” Ferdinand told Yahoo Sport. “There is going to be pressure when you are playing for a big club like United and that is going to be even more when they have paid that massive fee to sign you, but Paul can handle it.
“I was at United when he came through the ranks and we could all see he was a great player. We also worked out very quickly that he wasn’t short of confidence, which will help him now.
“We all know it was a mistake to let him go to Juventus, but that was a problem between the manager and his agent, which can happen in football.
“He’s not played too bad (since his return to United), but the expectations around him are bigger than they are for any other player, so people will question him.
“United have invested in massive potential here. This guy could be the best midfielder in world football for the next ten years and if he was to spend those years at United, then it would be a good investment.
“Pogba is still working out how to make the most of his talent. He can do so much on the field and needs to find his best role and make it work. I’m sure he will prove to be a good buy for United. People are too quick to judge players now, so let’s see where he is at the end of this season.”
Ferdinand went on to suggest United’s biggest concern this season will focus on their defensive line, as he suggests Mourinho will need time to find a balance in a back four that has been disrupted by injury concerns.
“A great defence is built around strong working relationships between the four guys and the trouble for United has been that their best players have not all been available at the same time,” he continues.
“Luke Shaw was out for most of last season, Chris Smalling has been out and they have had a winger playing in the right full-back position (Antonio Valencia), which is not ideal.
“All the attention was on strengthening the attacking side of the team since Mourinho came in, but you would have some concerns about the defence as the four best players are not getting the chance to play together for one reason or another.
“What you would say is that Mourinho had tended to get the defensive side of the game right wherever he has gone and he will find a way to blend this team together.
“Having Shaw back is a great bonus and I know he has been working hard all summer to make sure he is ready for the start of the new season. He is a great young player and deserves a bit of luck to go his way this season.”
Ferdinand believes Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp may have an edge over his Premier League title chasing rivals this season, with the time he has had to lay his own foundations at Anfield crucial to their hopes of success this season.
“Jurgen Klopp has a little bit of an advantage over the new managers coming into the Premier League because he has been here for the best part of a season,” adds Ferdinand.
“I like what I see from Liverpool, but there are still some doubts about them defensively and they cannot win the league by scoring more goals that the opposition every week. You always think you have a chance against them at set-pieces and they need to solve that problem to get in the mix for the title.
“They will also need to keep Daniel Sturridge fit. It has been a concern for Liverpool over the last couple of seasons and they have to hope his injury problems stay away.”
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