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Sell Pogba? Why Woodward must (finally) make 'football decision' for good of Man Utd

COMMENT: So is the straw? The week when the board of Manchester United say: enough?! The moment when Paul Pogba effectively talks his way out of Old Trafford?

We've said it before in this column, Pogba is a bright man. Fluent in three languages. Aware the power of his profile on social media and beyond. He knows the weight his words have. That interview with Sky Deutschland. That throwaway line. That need to stir things up. Has it finally dawned on Ed Woodward, United's vice-chairman exec? The Glazers? Can they now see this situation goes well beyond the player's relationship with his manager?

It's in him. He just had to do it. All those claims of a new, more mature version of Pogba. We knew it wouldn't last. Sod the club. The reputation. The stature. It has to be about Paul Pogba. He needs to be at the centre of it all.

In the week when we had Barca players Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez talking up the prospect of calling Pogba a teammate - then followed by the club's vice-president Jordi Mestre doing much the same - the Frenchman knew this interview would be pored over. And instead of treading carefully. Minding the reputation of the club. The unity of the squad. Pogba jumped in with both feet.

"My future is currently in Manchester, I still have a contract," he stated when asked about Barca, "I'm playing there at the moment."

And then kicker, "But who knows what will happen in the next few months?"

In other words, the New Year. The January market. And Barca have previous. Think Liverpool and Philippe Coutinho. It's almost their MO now. Let the summer window shut. Leave an unhappy player with his club. Then with everything at breaking point, pounce over Christmas. This was effectively Pogba's transfer request.

It certainly wasn't the words of a locker room leader. Of someone trying to build a spirit and unity amongst teammates. Handing him the captaincy. The "honour", as Pogba put it. Well, it didn't do jot. No, this was pure ego. Pure self-indulgence.

And for United, it's insulting. Woodward must see that now. How can a club of United's stature have it's most high profile player happily talking - indeed, volunteering - the idea that there's a better place for him? How does his manager build a culture inside the club when a senior player runs down the place at every opportunity?

For United fans, like or lump it, the best line on the Pogba situation was offered by Graeme Souness, the former Liverpool captain and manager: "Perhaps we're now seeing the selfish player Fergie didn't fancy first time round?"

And this was delivered days before that interview.

After his "I'll be fined" claims about Jose Mourinho, we now have this. The Pogba situation really is becoming a line in the sand for the United of Ed Woodward. If there's one ally of Pogba inside the club, it's the vice-chairman.

But it's not for football reasons. How could it? World Cup winner's medal or not, no-one with a straight face could claim Pogba is close to getting on the Ballon d'Or dais. Indeed, there's good arguments to be made he's a walking - with an emphasis on walking - liability for Mourinho's midfield. No, Pogba's value to Woodward is what he brings off the pitch. The marketing revenue. The social media power. The general media interest. Basically the epitome of United since Woodward stepped up to succeed David Gill.

Yet now that leeway granted by those above Mourinho, not to mention many of ex-United players now in the media, is making a mockery of the club. Pogba is literally taking the mick. The captaincy. The public support from his manager. The private support of the vice-chairman. The praise from his teammates. Everything. On and on it goes. Yet in return. On foreign soil. He throws it all back in their face.

United are bigger than this. They're bigger than Paul Pogba. A football decision needs to be made. Enough is enough: sell the No6 in January.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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