Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is not prepared to change who he is or how he plays despite criticism over his recent performance for France.
Pogba was whistled by France fans last Friday in the 3-1 friendly home win over Italy, which has led to some questioning whether he should be dropped for the national team.
Following the win over Italy, a whopping 73% of French fans voted for Pogba to be dropped by France in a poll run by France Football. It seems the fans would rather see Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso play.
Speaking to France Football, Pogba responded to the criticism by saying:
“A lot of people are proud of what I do and what I represent. When they meet me in person, they’re surprised and say to themselves I’m really nice.
“From the outside, they don’t have that image and think I’m a star, arrogant, that I’m going to look down on them. It’s funny. In fact, I’m just me. Those who don’t know me look only at appearances.
“There will always be people who think: ‘Ah, he’s a bighead, ah, he shows off,’ and everyone has the right to their opinion. You have the right to criticise me — to speak. But that’s not going to change me.”
With regards to his style of play, Pogba added:
“I have always been like that. What I have won, I have won by being like that. I’m like that. It’s my playing style. You’re not going to criticise Messi when he walks on the pitch. He scores three goals and you’re going to say: ‘Ah, but he walks on the pitch?’ No.
“People can’t tell me how I have to play. No-one can tell me how I have to play. If I’m in this position today, it’s by being like this. No one has told me how to be. It’s my football, that’s all. People either love it or not.
“Do I need that for people to love me? Do I need that for people to judge me differently? Or speak better of me?”
Pogba is clearly a world class player but is inconsistent and with so few games in a World Cup, the question has to be asked, is he worth the risk?
Name and reputation alone should not be enough. Many national teams have failed for this very reason, England in particular. It takes a strong manager to drop a high profile out-of-form player and it is doubtful that France manager Didier Deschamps has that character.
Pogba will play from the start, but is it the right decision?