Paul Pogba finally looks at home as a Manchester United player after years of ‘harsh’ criticism, says Edgar Davids, and can crown positive season by leading them to Europa League glory against Villarreal tonight
- Manchester United play Villarreal in the UEFA Europa League final in Gdansk
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the chance to win first silverware of his United tenure
- Dutch legend Edgar Davids believes Paul Pogba could prove their matchwinner
- He has been impressed by French midfielder’s form over course of the season
- Davids believes the criticism levelled at Pogba in recent seasons was ‘harsh’
Paul Pogba is happy again in a winning Manchester United team after suffering years of ‘harsh’ criticism and can inspire them to UEFA Europa League glory tonight, according to Edgar Davids.
The French midfielder can round off arguably his best season in a United shirt in style when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team face Villarreal in Gdansk on Wednesday night.
Pogba, 28, has scored six goals and contributed nine assists across all competitions during a season of undoubted progress for United, developing a good understanding with the likes of Bruno Fernandes.
Paul Pogba has the opportunity to crown an impressive season for Manchester United when they take on Villarreal in the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday night
The French midfielder was all smiles as United flew to Gdansk in Poland for the final
Edgar Davids, speaking on behalf of UEFA Europa League sponsor Enterprise, believes Pogba has never been happier at United and can deliver them the trophy tonight
He now has the opportunity to win the Europa League for the second time in his career, having scored in United’s 2-0 win over Ajax in the 2017 final.
Dutch legend Davids is pleased to see Pogba finally look at home again at Old Trafford.
‘The thing is with Paul, people are so harsh with him,’ he said. ‘But he is one of the greatest talents I have seen. What we have seen so far is a glimpse.
‘The funny thing is I met Paul and the guy is so humble. You don’t expect that, he is so humble.
‘He loves United and he will always do his best and that makes me so excited.
‘Sometimes you don’t see him perform but the problem is sometimes we want to see a different character. He expresses himself differently but he gives 110 per cent for United every time he steps on the pitch.
Pogba helped United win the Europa League during his first season back at the club in 2016-17
He scored United’s opening goal as they defeated Ajax 2-0 in the final staged in Stockholm
‘The extra quality comes out and also if you have somebody like Bruno Fernandes to step up to the plate, you can see the extra qualities.
‘You cannot let him do all his extra stuff by himself but he is one of the best players in the world in his position.’
Pogba was in a purple patch of form and United looked capable of mounting a Premier League title challenge at the start of the year.
But Pogba suffered a hamstring injury in a 3-3 draw against Everton and United dropped crucial points in his absence, falling behind eventual champions Manchester City.
A sometimes difficult season for Pogba can still end on a high, however, and Davids can see the transformation in his body language.
Pogba suffered a hamstring injury in February which affected United’s title challenge
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows Pogba will be crucial as he chases his first trophy as United boss
‘He is happy when he is winning. You should not look happy if you are playing in a top side knowing you need to do better and the team needs to do better,’ he said.
‘If things go better, it makes you happier. With him, I always have the impression he loves to do it, he loves to be a winner. He showed it with France as well.
‘Now you see the quality is there and the mentality is positive.’
Wednesday night could represent a breakthrough for Solskjaer if he wins the first trophy of his tenure as United manager.
They had reached four semi-finals and lost all of them prior to overcoming Roma to reach Gdansk and they will begin as favourites against their Spanish opponents.
However, former Ajax, AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan midfielder Davids sounded a note of caution.
Pogba has formed a good understanding with Bruno Fernandes in United’s midfield
Winning the Europa League in 2017 capped off a positive first season for Jose Mourinho – but it didn’t take too long for things to unravel during his Old Trafford tenure
‘You have to take into account that also Jose Mourinho won the Europa League with Man United [in 2017]. It is never a reassurance for a coach,’ he said.
‘You can even win the Champions League and four or five months later you can be sacked.
‘But it would be a great start, especially if you’re at a big club like Man United, where it used to be normal to win trophies.
‘They have to stop comparing themselves with that time. Man United is a great club with a great history, but you have to move forwards.
‘You were fortunate that you had somebody like Sir Alex Ferguson and also the quality of players he had in that team. It was also a different time.
‘Now you have to look forward. They have the budget, they have the players to create their own history.’
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