Football: Pogba should show more loyalty and Solskjaer can revive Man United's fortunes, says ex-striker Saha

Former Manchester United player Louis Saha speaking to members of the media in Johor Bahru on June 30, 2019.
Former Manchester United player Louis Saha speaking to members of the media in Johor Bahru on June 30, 2019.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

JOHOR BARU - Paul Pogba should show some loyalty and Manchester United must instil more stability.

Former United striker Louis Saha is annoyed and frustrated about the wantaway midfielder and the sorry state of affairs at his beloved club.

The 40-year-old Frenchman was part of the Rest of the World XI team - which included retired footballers like Rivaldo, Robert Pires, Edgar Davids, Claude Makelele, Bebeto, Marco Materazzi and Claudio Caniggia - that took on Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Ta'zim in a charity match at Larkin Stadium on Sunday night (June 30).

The proceeds from the game, the brainchild of Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, will go to Tunku Laksamana Johor Cancer Foundation, National Cancer Society of Malaysia and Women's Aid Organisation.

Saha admitted to fatigue after travelling almost an entire day from Nice to Johor via Paris and Singapore for the match, but he is more weary of Pogba's public posturing for a move away from Old Trafford.

The French star dropped a bombshell while on a promotional tour with the club's sponsor adidas last month that he may seek greener pastures. He has been linked with Real Madrid and former club Juventus.

Pogba said: "There is a lot of thinking (going on)... It could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else."

Saha lamented his compatriot's lack of loyalty to United who signed him from Juventus in 2016 for a club record of £89 million (S$153 million).

He said on Sunday: "Players now are not attached to their teams. It is more about their own careers and how they make a step closer to their dreams. It seems like Manchester United was one part of Pogba's dream.

"It is a pity to see him expressing his desire to leave my favourite club.

"I am a bit annoyed by that, but what can I do? I struggle to understand why players express themselves publicly. I am gutted because he is a massive player for the club."

Saha, who won the Premier League title twice and the 2008 Champions League with United, offered a possible explanation for Pogba's contrasting form for country and club.

The 26-year-old played a key role in France's World Cup success last year, but he blew hot and cold for the Red Devils last term.

Highlighting the lack of stability at the club, Saha said: "There were transition periods for United, but that is not the case for France. There was no lack of stability with the manager for France (Didier Deschamps). The situation is not the same for United.

"United are also still trying to find their feet back since the departure of Alex Ferguson. These are some things that can give an indication of why he has struggled. Because he is a big and talented player, sometimes people expect him to do too much. He had a tremendous season, but people will expect more."

United fans are not alone in complaining about an underwhelming transfer window so far in which they have signed winger Daniel James for £15 million and full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka for £50 million.

Saha conceded that United have lost much of their pulling power, and said: "It does frustrate me. You can see United are not the team people are going to choose straight away, because they are not in the Champions League, and they don't have the best squad right now.

"These transitions make big players hesitate. It is going to be a big mission for United and the directors. They have a challenge on their hands."

But he is confident Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can lift United out of the doldrums. The duo caught up in May's Treble Reunion game where both scored in a 5-0 win over Bayern Munich - a repeat of the 1999 Champions League final.

The Norwegian shared with his former teammate that "running more than the opposition" will be the mantra for the new season.

Despite the dominance of Manchester City and Liverpool, and Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal finishing ahead of United last season, Saha refuted the notion that struggling to qualify for Europe is the new normal for the Red Devils.

He said: "You have to realise the competition is so hard in the EPL.

"There are six to eight teams who can compete to win the trophy when previously there were only three or four. United are still a massive club and one of the best clubs in the world."