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Why Mourinho's captaincy (& Pogba) dilemma shows how far Man Utd trail Man City

COMMENT: Finding another 19 points is one thing. A couple hundred million quid can remedy that. But to really know the size of the challenge facing Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, just consider the dilemma Michael Carrick has handed him this summer.

Of course, Manchester City won't stand still. United may've managed to get Fred and young Diogo Dalot through the door, but City won't be sitting on their hands for long. And no matter what City do this summer, it's going to take more than throwing money at the problem for Mourinho to fix this one.

19 points is some gap to cover. But the difference between City and United goes way beyond a league table. And Carrick's retirement highlights it. We're talking the real difference between these two squads.

It's about experience. Winning experience. And leadership. At City, if Vincent Kompany was to suddenly walk away, there'd be a surplus of candidates available to inherit the captaincy. No-one would bat an eyelid if Fernandinho, David Silva or Kevin De Bruyne were given the armband. And at a pinch, Sergio Aguero and Fabian Delph could also step in. Pep Guardiola is spoilt for choice. It'd be one of the easiest decisions he'd ever have to make as City manager.

In contrast, at United the cupboard is bare. There's no clear candidate. Not one even worthy. Antonio Valencia is the obvious choice - but the lad still can't string two words of English together. 12 years in the country and he's still using an interpreter. For a club the size of United, this has to be a non-starter. Juan Mata has been mentioned. As has Chris Smalling. But neither player, in Mourinho's mind, is a first-choice.

David de Gea has been pushed. And like Smalling, he does know what it takes to win a league title. But those who have worked with him don't see the Spanish goalkeeper as a natural, vocal leader. De Gea isn't a Roy Keane. Nor a Steve Bruce or Bryan Robson. He's certainly not a Kompany.

Mention Robson and for the original 'Captain Fantastic', he says give it to the lad in the No6 shirt. It could be the making of him, says Robbo: "It might mature him a little bit more and give him a little bit of enhancement in his game".

When someone of Robson's standing puts something forward, it's always worth a second look. But Paul Pogba is not captain material. Not if the club is to stick to their traditions. Not if they want to honour the legacy created by men like Robson.

Yes, he's vocal. Yes, he can be a matchwinner. But today's Pogba doesn't warrant discussion as the next Manchester United captain.

He could've been. He and his entourage. They could've recognised the moment. The opportunity. The time to put away childish things and show those skeptics that he is ready to be the frontman for a billion pound company. Wipe the social media accounts. Ditch the silly hair. Make an effort. A bloody gesture. Something to show that you're willing to dump old habits and do what is demanded from a United captain.

The form. The football on the pitch. That's one thing. That can be worked through. Improved. We've heard the whispers. The complaints from teammates about a lack of accountability. An unwillingness to track back. Okay, that's a serious flaw, but something which can coached out of his game.

But there's also the complaints about Pogba's behaviour off the pitch. From those happy he'll be late for preseason. He won't have to be indulged. It'll be a serious time for serious pros. Surely these rumblings have also reached the likes of Robson?

Get with the times, the apologists say. It's a different era. Pick any of Pogba's peers and the antics are same. But Kevin de Bruyne is no Pogba. Nor is Eden Hazard or Harry Kane.

For Pogba, his lack of self-awareness condemns him. United needed the Frenchman to step up this summer. Yes, for the player, the captaincy is an opportunity. But also for the club. For the manager. It is a desperate need. A glaring weakness needing to be solved. Pogba could have made the sacrifice. No matter how small. But he could've offered Mourinho something the two of them could build upon.

But the 25 year-old man hasn't. He's happy to stay online. To stay in his lane. To dance. To dab. To do all the things he was ten years ago.

On this one, Robson is wrong. Pogba isn't a leader. He should be. He can be. But today, he's not. And it's just another problem he's left his manager to solve.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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