After playing poorly for the best part of two seasons, barely bothering in the last few months of Jose Mourinho’s time at Manchester United, Paul Pogba could be rewarded with the captaincy by United’s interim manger, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Pogba was one of the disgracefully poor players who was targeted by Mourinho during the unhappy 6-24 months of his time in charge, but was one of the best players for France in the Russian World Cup as they lifted the trophy. He also has been at the heart of United’s resurgence under Solskjaer.
And now, he has been named as a potential future captain.
“He’s a character, he influences people, he cares and he really wants to be successful,” mused Solskjaer.
“I know him from before and when he’s enjoying himself he brings so many good things with him.
“He knows he can’t do it by himself, he knows it’s a team game but you can see the personality, you can see what winning the World Cup meant to him, so for me, yes, he’s captain material.”
While it is faintly depressing and isolating to look at football and realise that players can’t take any kind of vague criticism anymore, it is probably no more destroyed than the modern world. And, there’s a question of pragmatism. If the best players - and indeed, the worst players too - are so sensitive to harsh words then there comes a point that there is little to be achieved by fighting against it.
Better, then, to just accommodate and indulge their whims in order to keep their egos massaged and their confidence improved regardless of thinking they could do better and reminding them of that.
The alternative is simply to walk away from football altogether and find worth and joy in another part of the world. Good luck with that!