It was a 12:20am, the early hours of Tuesday morning when Manchester United finally allowed the floodgates to open and threw forth a torrent of Paul Pogba related content. Dramatic, dark videos featuring a body double, gifs, clips of interviews and even a behind the scenes clip filled with footage of the Frenchman’s first day back at Old Trafford…..it was all there, carefully planned and unleashed for maximum impact.
There at the centre of it was Pogba himself; humble, likeable and seemingly over the moon to be back at the club that he’d left so awkwardly four years ago. He frequently mentioned that it felt like he’d ‘come home’, music to the fans’ ears and certainly welcome to the club’s leadership, too.
It’s the perfect transfer for what Manchester United needs as a club and a business right now. Pogba is a player of exceptional talent who plays in a position that United needed to reinforce, and with his pace, power and skill, it’s not difficult to see why Jose Mourinho earmarked him his priority signing in midfield.
It’s also perfect for Ed Woodward and the Glazers who clearly view United beyond their functions and performances on the pitch. Pogba is a global icon; young, successful and talented, and a player who can bring in new sponsors or help to bring in even more money from the multitude of deals that United currently have operating. The social media strategy was just the tip of the iceberg; Pogba was deliberately picked up in a Chevrolet at Manchester Airport, and the club’s shirt sponsor will be keenly aware of the potential financial windfall of being associated with a player of his profile.
The backlash from rival fans has been magnificent, with fans claiming that United are ‘ruining football’, or the transfer fee paid was ‘obscene’, when in actuality, the club makes such a ridiculous amount of money annually that it would be insane not to spend it. Ironically, City’s combined expenditure for this summer has been more than United’s, even with the £89m that went to Juventus when Pogba came the over way, but criticism for this fact appears to be mostly non-existent.
Which tells the whole story. United have frequently thrived on being hated, and with Mourinho in charge, and the club able to draw top talent from all over Europe this summer, those who enjoy seeing United fail are now concerned what this new team could do in the Premier League this season. The overreaction to the Pogba deal has proven one thing, at least; that, like the man himself, United are almost definitely back.