Manchester United were back to winning ways after their draw against Stoke City in the league, as they registered a simple victory over Swiss opponents FC Basel in the first game of the group stage of the Champions League this season. The manager will be happy with the way things are going at the moment but he has been dealt a blow in the form of an injury to one of his midfield lynchpins, Paul Pogba.
Pogba out of a ‘few weeks’:
The French international had started the new campaign in bright fashion, having already picked up two goals and two assists in four league games. He was superb in the game against Basel as well, but only till he had to be subbed off in the first half.
The 24-year old was named the skipper of the side on a night which ended prematurely with Pogba leaving Old Trafford on crutches. Jose Mourinho revealed that it is a ‘muscle injury’ and that he could be out for a few weeks, leaving United a bit short-handed. So how can Mourinho cope without Pogba?
Options to replace Pogba:
The former Chelsea manager has used a 4-2-3-1 system with newbie Nemanja Matic partnering Pogba as a part of the two-man midfield. Spanish star Ander Herrera was used in a recent game in a 4-3-3 variant but with Pogba out injured, Mourinho has little option but to stick with a two-man midfield.
Matic was excellent against Basel as well and is the first choice midfielder for the Portuguese manager. He is likely to be partnered with Herrera, the ‘Player of the Season’ for United last time around. But the duo has never started together in a midfield and might take time to settle in.
Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick are also options but Herrera and Matic should give United enough energy, mettle and creativity in the midfield, even in Pogba’s absence. Fellaini or Carrick can only be used if the manager decides to go with a 4-3-3 system.
Will Pogba be missed?
The Red Devils are at the top of the league table at the moment and are unbeaten, but they have some tough games coming up. They face Everton next at home, where Pogba’s productivity will surely be missed. The League Cup game against Burton and the trip to Southampton are two games United should be able to work with, in the absence of the French international.
They resume their UCL campaign with a trip to Moscow before welcoming Palace to Old Trafford, just before the international break. Neither of those games is going to be easy but Mourinho will feel that he has enough firepower to win even without Pogba.
However, they are back in action after the break when they travel to Anfield and United just cannot afford to miss the 24-year old on the turf of their arch-rivals. Do you think Pogba will be missed before that game?