‘When a man produces four assists, you’ve got to put your feelings aside and say “you know what, well played”: Rio Ferdinand wades in on Graeme Souness’ criticism of Paul Pogba… insisting he has a ‘burning desire’ to win trophies at Man United
- Rio Ferdinand has criticised Graeme Souness for refusing to praise Paul Pogba
- Souness said Pogba’s feat of four assists in one game was to be ‘expected’
- But Ferdinand hit back that Souness should put his feelings aside and applaud
- The ex-Manchester United player said Pogba wants to succeed at Old Trafford
Rio Ferdinand has called out Graeme Souness over his refusal to praise Paul Pogba, insisting that the Frenchman has a ‘burning desire’ to drive Manchester United to success and silverware.
Souness created a stir after damning Pogba with faint praise following his exceptional four assists in United’s 5-1 demolition of Leeds on Saturday.
Speaking on Sky Sports the following day ahead of Newcastle’s match against West Ham, Souness insisted the ‘star’ of the Red Devils’ win was Mason Greenwood.
Rio Ferdinand has called out Graeme Souness for refusing to praise midfielder Paul Pogba
Ferdinand (left) said Souness (right) should put feelings aside and praise Pogba’s four assists
After fellow pundit Micah Richards pointed out Pogba’s four assists in the game, Souness declined to praise the Frenchman, saying: ‘We expect that from a £100million man’ – despite United paying £89million for the World Cup winner.
Ferdinand attempted to mount a defence for Souness, suggesting his comments were taken out of context and not clearly enough explained.
‘I don’t think Graeme Souness articulated it but I believe he thinks (about Pogba’s achievement): Let’s not get out of our pram about this, let’s not go overboard, let me see this for the next three months, I want consistency,’ Ferdinand said on the Vibe with Five YouTube podcast.
Pogba got four assists in United’s 5-1 win over Leeds – only the sixth Premier League player to do so in one game
‘I think that’s where Souness’ mind is at with Paul Pogba. If we’re being honest, consistency is probably one of the factors that goes against Paul Pogba in his Man United career.’
But Ferdinand also criticised Souness’ unwillingness to praise Pogba’s achievement, a feat so rare that only six players have ever managed it in a Premier League match, and also intimated that Souness has broader issues with the Frenchman.
‘When a man produces four assists on day one of the season, you’ve got to put your feelings to one side and say “you know what, well played”,’ Ferdinand said. ‘Because it doesn’t happen often.’
Souness (left) and Micah Richards (right) had a heated argument about Pogba on Sunday
Souness has long been a critic of Pogba, and particularly the constant debate about the player’s future at United. Souness and Richards had an extremely fractious argument over the Frenchman’s conduct around the issue at the weekend.
Souness refused to accept Richards’ view that Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, could have been commenting about the midfielder leaving Old Trafford without the player’s consent, interrupting Richards to ask: ‘Do you think the agent speaks without the permission of the player? Do you think the agent just talks out nonsense?’
Richards replied immediately: ‘I actually do, I actually do, definitely’, with Souness responding: ‘Not a chance, not a chance. He’s echoing the thoughts of the player.’
Ferdinand believes Pogba (left) has a ‘burning desire’ to win trophies at Manchester United
Souness then angrily asked host Dave Jones to move on, before having to turn away from the camera to compose himself.
Ferdinand admitted Pogba’s United future was unclear, but believed the 28-year-old wants to be a champion at the club.
‘I think if he smells success and a winning period, there’s something that says to me that he’ll go: “I want to be a part of it”.
‘That’s all he’s come (back) for. When I speak to Paul, all he talks about is wanting to win. He’s got a burning desire to do that for Man United. He grew up (at United) as a kid, he wants to be known as one of the guys that was part of a winning team.
‘If he walked out of Man United, I know for a fact that Paul Pogba would look back and go: “(I) didn’t win the Premier League, didn’t win the Champions League. That’s not what I came back for”. There would be unfinished business.’
Paris Saint-Germain have been pursuing Pogba and could try to sign him next season
Paris Saint-Germain are strongly linked with making a move for Pogba next season if he is out of contract, having already signed Lionel Messi and a host of other stars this summer.
Ferdinand said PSG are the only club Pogba could ‘justify’ moving to in order to win the Champions League, claiming other European giants are no longer the winners they once were.
‘Going to Real Madrid or somewhere like Barcelona right now, you’re not taking a forward step, you’re not going to be closer to winning the Champions League going there than you are Man United at the moment,’ he said.
‘The pool of clubs (Pogba) could have gone to two years ago (to win the Champions League) has shrunk,’ Ferdinand said.
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