United & Pogba needs to be the best deal Ed Woodward never made

So, I’m at the local supermarket this morning, and a burnt orange Lamborghini muscles into the spot beside me. The hydraulic doors rise slowly. From the passenger side, a gorgeous, long-legged, bronzed blonde, approaching the big four-oh but coping extremely well, gracefully emerges. On the opposite side, a fat cat who has at least twenty years on her struggles to get out from behind the wheel. His pot belly severely impedes his progress, but, despite the grunting and wheezing, he somehow manages to achieve–ahem–an erect posture without losing the cigar clamped between his teeth.

When the doors have finished their slow descent, he presses the remote, which offers a self-satisfied chirp. Glancing over the top of the car, he gives me a brusque nod, as though I were considering driving away with the car rather than his bird.

He waddles around to the boot where he slides his arm around his trophy’s waist. They’re quite the spectacle walking through the lot, her in designer dress, bag, and six-inch platforms, him in white polyester slacks, a blue diamond-patterned Banlon sweater, driver’s cap, and jewel encrusted Dolce Gabbana wrap-arounds. She’s a stunner, but he looks absolutely ridiculous. The thing is, who’s going to tell him with all the money he’s got? Moreover, he’s obviously not the type to listen.

Which brings us to a certain type of Manchester United fan, although anyone with half an ounce of sense would hope not necessarily the management. Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill took up gardening, the new man in charge, Ed Woodward, has been routinely claiming United are willing to splash the cash to sign new players. He’s done it so often, he might as well be driving through the village square in a cherry red Lamborghini with black and yellow striping, leaning on the horn like he’s the grand marshal of his own one-float parade. All that braggadocio has meant he’s had to overpay for virtually every player he’s signed, and was willing to for the ones he missed. Now, Eager Ed’s got his eyes on former Old Trafford starlet Paul Pogba, and there’s a large bloc of supporters urging him to buy whatever the cost.


Well, stop. Just stop.

What’s the problem, they want to know? We’ve got the dosh. United is the biggest club in the world, with the most revenues, a slightly more than equal share in the biggest broadcasting contract on the planet, and, therefore, absolutely no worries with regard to Financial Fair Play.

Well, the first problem is that other clubs know it–no surprise really, when you go shouting it from the mountaintops–and are happy to take advantage. Yes, yes, they’ll agree, that’s why Juventus is really sticking it to us, but we can show them! We’re bigger than they are. We can afford Pogba, and ten more like him!

What these nouveau-riche blowhards don’t seem to understand is that the Old Lady isn’t asking €120 million, and for United to pony up Mino Raiola’s €25 million agent’s cut on top, because she’s eager to sell Pogba. She isn’t. She’s trying to get it through our collectively thick skulls that she wants to keep Pogba for as long as she possibly can.

Zinedine-Zidane-zinedine-zidane-31223410-420-354That might only be one more season, because there is actually another biggest club in the world. This one has a much larger slice of La Liga’s smaller TV rights pie, keeping it on a financial par with United, if not a level above. As well, theirs is a far better squad, offering not only the immediate chance to play in the Champions League, but to win it. What’s more, they’re coached by an incredibly intelligent Frenchman of Algerian heritage, follicly challenged, yes, but otherwise well equipped to drive circles around our Ed in the transfer market. Zinedine Zidane wants his young countryman to come to Real Madrid because the one thing his European champions lack is a box-to-box midfielder abundantly blessed with both strength and skill. A player made in his own image. And he’ll toy with Ed in the media, like a cat toys with a mouse, even if it’s just to give the Scudetto holders reason to stick to their guns. If that level of competition isn’t sufficient to give pause to United’s unbridled impulse shopping, both Paul Pogba and his agent have made it clear the Santiago Bernabeu is their ultimate destination.

This is why I really hope Ed Woodward is a country music fan. More specifically, a Kenny Rogers groupie. Because you do have to know when to hold them, and when to fold them. Most importantly, however, you have to know when to walk away, and when to run. Right now, Ed needs to be ringing up die-hard United fan Usain Bolt, to see if the world-record holding sprinter is willing to lend him a decent pair of trainers.

Sign Moussa Sissoko. Or Blaise Matuidi. Or even Chelsea’s Matić, if he’s forgiven Mourinho for treating him like one of Donald Trump’s wives. United have had good experiences with Nemanjas in the past. Even if the club signs no one, Morgan Schneiderlin has the defensive discipline his manager values, and a decent upside with the ball at his feet. None of them are Pogba, but neither is Pogba the type of player you purchase regardless the price.

If a player is going to cost you €145 million before his wages are added, in an era where no other player realistically in the market even approaches a six-figure valuation, and you can at best hope to keep this player for five years, you’re talking about at least €35 million per year to rent him. When the time arrives to sell to Madrid, it’s also highly doubtful United will recover anything close to its full investment. Zizou and Florentino Perez know Pogba is dying to wear Castilian white, and there isn’t anyone nearly as forceful as Sir Alex Ferguson to divide his loyalties, thereby giving United the necessary leverage to command the type of money they eventually extracted for Cristiano Ronaldo. This time,  they’re going to have to accept whatever crumbs the Spaniards are willing to offer, or let Pogba play out his final year and walk away for nothing.

Pogba has the potential to be the second coming of Zidane, a consistent presence and game-changing force of nature.  José Mourinho may even be more qualified than the original to unearth those qualities. It won’t be as straightforward as many think, though. Those qualities certainly weren’t evident at the Euros, and the player will be looking at Old Trafford as a stepping stone to better things. When anyone comes in the door with that attitude, it will be like pulling teeth to get total commitment from them.

The bottom line is that Paul Pogba is not Cristiano Ronaldo, he’s not Lionel Messi, and his valuation should not be anywhere near either of theirs. So, if Juve isn’t willing to significantly budge on its terms, it is definitely time for Ed and Manchester United to not just walk, but run for the nearest exit. In fact, screw Kenny Rogers. The nearest exit isn’t enough by half. We need to be running to the hills.


More Stories Ed Woodward Juventus Manchester United Paul Pogba Real Madrid Zinedine Zidane


  1. Instead of writing such a long story, maybe you should’ve watched some football. Then you would have known that Matic and Schneiderlin are completely different players then Pogba. They are pure defensive midfielders, and Pogba is an attacking midfielder. Matuidi is a bit closer, but still much better at defensive work then going forward.

    Feel free to message me first next time before you publish.

    1. Neither Matic nor Schneiderlin are purely defensive midfielders. In Chelsea’s last title season Matic’s box-to-box play was pivotal to the club’s success. Schneiderlin had some two-way impact during his time at So’ton, but was completely muzzled by LvG. That’s why I said he had potential. I’m not saying these players bring as much to the table as Pogba. They just provide far more value for the money. If you can’t understand that, I can’t help you. So, don’t stay up nights waiting for me to message you. I’ve got my eye on a certain blonde, anyway.

  2. I completely agree. As nice as it would be to have Pogba, he’s not worth the money. He’s made it pretty clear that he wants Real and his agent wants him to go to …, well anywhere so long as he gets a sizeable chunk of the transfer fee. It would be far wiser to invest the money elsewhere. My choice would be Carvalho, who would come at half the price and do twice the job in defensive midfield. Besides, Utd already have two competing Egos in Jose and Ibrahimovic, there probably isn’t room for a third.

  3. I agree with you 1000%,nothing would please me more if this deal collapses.Have we really slumped to the level where we have to grossly overpay for a player who doesn’t really want to sign? What happened to unearthing young gems to mould into great players,not yet as good s Pogba,but with huge potential?

  4. Well maybe I shouldn’t have said purely, but surely you can see they are way more defensive then Pogba.

    Plus Matic (27) got 4 years less playing time in him at top level, roughly half that of Pogba (23), and he costs about half (if Chelsea would even sell him to United at all, which I doubt). Furthermore, marketing value of Pogba should be 10x that of Matic. So I don’t see how he is better value for money. Similar value at best.

    About Schneiderlin, I think he will play next to Pogba (if the transfer goes through of course), with Martial-Rooney-Mkhitaryan in front of them.

    1. So Pogba will play a deep-lying role rather than an attacking one? I agree, although the man himself probably doesn’t, if you followed his minor feud with Didier Deschamps. The likely conflict is yet another reason not to go through with the deal. He won’t be happy with his place in the team, and will be looking to Madrid all the more intently for it.

      As for Schneiderlin, there’s also the question of what Mourinho, who loves his veterans, will do with the re-signed Carrick and Schweinsteiger. They’re going to get minutes, and probably league rather than cup minutes, at least early on. You don’t like stories, so you probably didn’t read the Musical Chairs piece that summed up his predicament.

  5. The problem being is that every season United and Ed Woodward ae talking about getting the best players and blowing off saying they’re the big shots in Europe and time and time and time again Madrid Barca PSG and Bayern get the player linked with United all summer. Sneijder, Vidal, Moura, Drogba, Ronaldinho the list is endless. I think part of the reason people don’t want the transfer to go through is based on the principal fact that Pogba left for a packet of crisps and now we’re supposed to pay for the factories that make these crisps to bring him back to United. I think at the same time most fans won’t care and shouldn’t care if United spend such vast wads of doe. Why shouldn’t they care? because if the money isn’t spent on Pogba then they’ll turn their attentions to half the price second of third the price forth choice players. Will these players help ease the fans expectations and cover over the disappointment of losing out to Madrid and co. who knows but one thing which you fail to mention in all of this is it’s the fans paying the price ultimately not Ed Woodward and the guy with the cigar clenched in his teeth.

  6. Well I meant Schneiderlin on 6 and Pogba on 8 in a 4231. That would make most sense to me. In the final it seemed he was put on 6, which is not his position for sure. And at Madrid he would be on the bench so he shouldn’t worry about them too much. I dont see them benching Modric or Kroos, and if they put him in Casemiro’s spot they’re insane. Although to be fair, they have been insane in the past.

    As for Mourinho liking veterans, i’m not sure if that is really true. Of course, he tends to use a few. But he still holds the record for winning the league with the youngest team ever. Even younger then United with that class of 92. Hs other teams were also quite young. Except for Inter. They were all all veterans ..

    I’ll read your book in the weekend thanks xD

  7. This all comes down to why must we splash the cash! Undoubtedly Pogba is one of the best in what he does wich is a box to box midfielder, has a deffencive work rate but more effective going forward than the current crop at Manchester United. Two mayor aspects mourhino will be looking at is, his technicality and physical atributes, in particular his hight. Last season teams started picking up on this and we were left exposed from set pieces. There are few that can argue that he is a great player, it is the price tag that is placed upon him and more so because he left for free. Now getting to the point, UTD have become the giant that they are, thanks in great part to SAF and the youth that has come through. Through more than a decade of great negotiations we now find ourselfs paying the price, but my question is, why not? And is it not more expensive to have a lack of success? We have been savi in our negotiations over the years and this has put us in a position to “splash the cash”. If this looked at through a financial point of view, wich is the case, you slowly bring up a company through small savi investments, as to not gamble away the business, but once your company has grown large and successful enough you are able to reap those rewards and make bigger investments in order to keep being number 1. The reality is Pogba will pay for himself through advertisement and image rights, because he may not be the best in the world but he is one of the biggest images in world footbal right now. If UTD were to win the premier league, then sponsorship, endorsement and TV deals would more than cover the investment and then some. Yes it all comes down to a gamble, but football is a gambling game, these clubs just do it on a much larger scale than the common folk. The reality is we have a world class manager, if pushed in the right direction, what is a world class squad and for the first time in a while UTD fans have a season to really look forward to.

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