United Rant Presents: The Paul Pogba Vine Theory

November 30, 2016 Tags: , , Reads 15 comments
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Social media is an amazing tool for sports. Twitter allows for instant reactions, enabling  fanbases of all clubs to unite, or clash, in one giant community. Increasingly, video is proving a critical part of the interaction: Twitter video and Vine, which was popular until its demise. But the impact of video clips has undoubtedly had an impact on the football bubble. Not always in a positive way.

Twitter announced recently that Vine wasn’t long for survival, and would be shut down unless it is sold. This might be a blessing and a curse. Sections of the football community has become remarkably short sighted in recent years; a world where the game is increasingly short-termist, and a brilliant performance can be forgotten by a loss or draw in the following game. It is a community in which a simple six-second video is used to reinforce assumptions about players’ performances.

"Paul Pogba vs West Ham:
87% pass accuracy
4 take-ons
3 aerial duels
3 shots
2 chances created
1 assist

Playing for a mid table side."Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport

No surprise that Paul Pogba should suffer for this mentality. The Frenchman’s world record transfer to Manchester United has been the subject of serious scrutiny, perhaps more than any player in recent memory. It is part of the pressure that comes with signing for the world’s biggest club – a status that enables hate, envy, jealousy and intense rivalry. Pogba is at the epicentre.

Critics of the French superstar have often label him a “vine merchant” – a context that is part of the problem the player faces. Fans form opinions based on short clips and social media interaction.

Premier League viewing figures are down globally, an indicator that the masses no longer have endless time to watch all the weekend’s games. For some, the focus is on the weekend’s biggest games, or just their own team. Despite wall-to-wall coverage, most fans don’t get full scope of a player’s true performance.

This is where social media comes to the fore. Pogba’s first touch for United, in his second spell at the club, has come to define his early days back in Manchester. The lack of ‘Vineable’ highlights, goals or assists in early games became a weapon for Pogba’s critics; evidence that proved he was struggling, even though statistics offered a contrary viewpoint.

The narrative around the midfielder’s opening period at Old Trafford was defined by this context, both United fans and neutrals, those defending or on the attack heard about his lack of “dabs” and series of haircuts, rather Pogba’s actual performance. Statistics told a very different story of Pogba’s first few months at the club though.

  • WhoScored Rating: 7.63 (8th Overall, 1st amongst midfielders)
  • Aerial Contests Won: 3.1 per game (24th Overall)
  • Man of the Match: 3 (3rd – (Tied) Overall)
  • Shots Per Game: 3.1 (9th Overall)
  • Dribbled Past (by an attacker): 0.9 per game (5th best amongst midfielders)
  • Key Passes: 1.9 per game (17th Overall, 3rd amongst midfielders)
  • Completed Dribbles: 2.8 per game (7th Overall, 1st amongst midfielders)
  • Long Pass Completed: 4.6 per game (9th amongst midfielders)

Indeed, Pogba’s numbers are very good for a player supposedly not living up to his price tag or “under performing.” The notion doesn’t really hold. Yet, the power of the narrative created by social media is overwhelming. The Frenchman has actually completed more passes in the final third than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues, with over 200 completed and counting. Until his teammates start capitalising on his creation, Pogba may not get the credit he truly deserves.

The Frenchman’s displays are also improving by the week, as his understanding with his partners such as Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick is evolving. Even without Carrick during United’s match against West Ham United, Pogba and Herrera were as dominant as a three man midfield on their own, controlling the middle of the park with ease.

Paul Pogba

United’s has not boasted true strength in central midfield for some time, with Paul Scholes and Carrick making do with what they had, often carrying a load far too many others. In recent times Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin, Anderson, Bastian Schweinsteiger and others have not met the high standards of the past.

Pogba and Herrera suggest a new era of midfield dominance on the red side of Manchester. The Spaniard screens the defence well, pressing hard and winning the ball high up the pitch or deep in his own half, before shuttling it forward to Pogba or his close friend Juan Mata.

It is a more important observation than the pithy variety on social media. The detractors and trolls of the Vine generation shouldn’t fool you. And Pogba is just warming up at United. It’s great news for a club in need of a new edge.


Denton Davey - December 1, 2016 Reply

Haters going to hate.

Pogba is the cornerstone to Jo$e’s NewUTD. But it’s a process, not a fait accompli. Some balance and patience is required before the rebuilding gels.

From what I’ve seen so far, PP will make the maximum impact in a 4-3-3 when he can be freed by partners like MC16 and Ander Herrera. Of course, Michael Carrick is in the twilight of a tremendous decade @ UTD and – while I think that Daley Blind would be an excellent “replacement” – it’s not clear what Jo$e thinks and, of course, his opinion is rather more important than mine !

Letting PP leave in 2011/2 was a colossal mistake from SAF – second only to “choosing” David Moyes. Getting him back is a real indicator that Jo$e has a plan in mind and the powers-that-be are willing (and able) to back his judgement with mega-buxx.

Being a glass-half-full kinda guy, I’m pleased with the improvement in the entertainment value of Jo$e’s UTD. While the results have been rather disappointing – and the number of questionable refereeing decisions has been quite amazing – the performances suggest that better days are ahead as PP gets used to the team and the team gets used to PP.

Adam Joseph - December 1, 2016 Reply

very well said mate.

bobbynoble - December 1, 2016 Reply

Micky T is more important to United than Pogba because he is a genuine Paul Scholes replacement.

Adam Joseph - December 1, 2016 Reply

i don’t think that’s a very apt comparison.

bobbynoble - December 2, 2016

That’s your opinion but to say it’s not an apt comparison is mind-boggling ballocks. Against Feyenord and West Ham in the EFL Micky T bossed the games. It was his energy, movement, availability and let’s say nous that picked up the rest of the team He was brilliant. He is so much more important than Pogba who is so far just a bit of icing on the cake.

Don’t be sucked in by transfer price tags. Micky T will drive this team forward whilst Pogba looks on and hopefully learns.

bobbynoble - December 2, 2016

Not saying that Micky T is as good as Scholesy but he is definitely that type of player, someone who United has been lacking for a few years.

Jebuba - December 1, 2016 Reply

You are on point man, I love to say so many man utd fan like us are hearing too much bad publicity from the media so I feel we definitely needed this

Simba - December 1, 2016 Reply

Okay the only thing I’d counter, despite being 100% on Team Pogba, is when were these stats collected? He has definitely raised his game significantly in the last month. I doubt those numbers looked as good a month ago when oppo fans might have had a bit of a point

Pint vulger - December 1, 2016 Reply

The lad is centre to any decent side Utd send out.Agreed he has generally struggled to produce the type of form the price tag demands ,but I think he has been a tad unlucky .Several brilliant efforts which on any other day woukd have been game changers ,take into account the team is unsettled and not playing great ,although performance wise there has been a big improvement recently .At last it looks like Jose is getting things right and Pogba will be central to that.Anyone suggesting he isnt first choice are just football bonkers ,but there are a lot of them on here.

NazManUnited - December 1, 2016 Reply

Pogba will get better & better & develop into the most feared midfielder in Europe. Mourinho will ensure this!

NazManUnited - December 1, 2016 Reply

Pogba, Herrera, Micky, Mata, Lingard, etc are all improving

Mike Silver - December 2, 2016 Reply

Form is tempory, class is permanent – something the plastics always seem to forget.

dhruva - December 2, 2016 Reply

this is a fantastic theory and totally plausible.

Matt - December 2, 2016 Reply

was never gonna happen over night. People need to get real. Given time, Jose will get it right. No question!

bobbynoble - December 4, 2016 Reply

The only thing special about Pogba is his price tag.

He is nowhere near as influential as Micky.

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