Former Manchester United assistant manager and one-time England boss Steve McClaren has today revealed his opinion that Red Devils’ midfielder Paul Pogba should be striving to reach the level of ‘maturity’ and ‘completeness’ of Man City counterpart Kevin De Bruyne.
City and United are set to go head to head at the Etihad this evening, with the Citizens heading into proceedings a massive 16 points clear of 2nd-placed United in the English top-flight table.
As such, as has been widely covered in the media ahead of kick-off, 3 points for the hosts would see Pep Guardiola’s men clinch the Premier League title in the most fairytale manner imaginable, courtesy of a victory over their fierce inner-city rivals.
Ahead of today’s matchup, a number of sub-plots have been heavily covered in the English media, with the Guardiola vs Mourinho story-line, and all of the history that comes with it, adding an extra layer to an already crucial contest.
Another of the topics to have gained widespread attention in the press not only in the buildup to today’s derby, but over the course of the season to date, has been the contrasting form of Paul Pogba and Kevin De Bruyne for United and City respectively.
De Bruyne, who, alongside Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, is viewed as the current leader in the race for the PFA Player of the Year award, has been at his brilliant best to this point in the Premier League campaign, notching 7 goals and a whopping 15 assists in leading Manchester City to an inevitable, and thoroughly deserved English top-flight title.
Pogba, on the other hand, has struggled mightily for both form and game-time over recent months, following a superb start to the season with United.
A fallout with manager Jose Mourinho in January, coupled with several niggling injuries, has seen the French midfielder’s reputation come into question once again with the media and pundits alike, with many expressing their concern that Pogba may never return to the dizzy heights of his sensational form with Serie A giants Juventus.
‘Has not matured’
The latest to make a comparison between De Bruyne and Pogba ahead of today’s Manchester derby is former United coach Steve McClaren.
Speaking in an interview with Sky Sports, McClaren revealed his opinion that Pogba should be aiming to emulate the growth and maturity gained by De Bruyne over the last couple of seasons, labelling the latter a ‘complete midfield player’:
‘[Kevin] De Bruyne looks like he has gone away to Germany for three or four years, come back and matured.’
‘He is consistent and is becoming a top player and a complete midfield player.’
‘Pogba looks like he has come back after leaving Manchester United and has not matured, he is inconsistent but I think [Jose] Mourinho is the perfect manager to make him consistent and mature.’
‘With top players you need patience, but he [Mourinho] needs to drive him [Pogba] and discipline him. Everything that De Bruyne is, that is what he should be.’
‘For Pogba, leaving Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson has not done him any good. Coming back to that environment should improve him.’
‘It is not about age, it is about experience. De Bruyne is mature now but he still looks young. Pogba hasn’t got that maturity in his game. Mourinho is trying to get that back and he is trying to get discipline and hard work.’
‘De Bruyne is a great player but he is also plays for the team and works hard, tackles, win his duels, creates and scores.’