The Pogmentary – A deserved backlash?

Being in a club with an amazing history like Manchester United places several expectations on a person. They must keep fit, deliver, and manage external and internal pressure. While internal pressure revolves around mentality, external pressure stems from several sources, particularly the media. Most players in massive clubs receive some criticism (majorly destructive), and the media is a powerhouse for that. At least two out of ten Manchester United fans would agree that Paul Pogba is among the most criticised players. He receives heat for many reasons. A few include his performance on the field, social life, hairstyle, and most recently— The Pogmentary.

Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Aaron Wan Bissaka training. (credit: United Report)

The world learnt about his reaction to his contract renewal through the five-episode documentary about himself. After its release on 17th June, the series reportedly had the lowest rating ( 1.1 out of 10) on IMDb. Before exploring the possible reasons for such, let’s look at The Pogmentary.

The Pogmentary ratings became poor just after a week. (Credit: BR Football)

Episode one

In the first episode, Paul Pogba reminisced about his most important aspiration as a young boy (his desire to be a professional soccer player). He first moved to United in 2009, at 16 years of age. As a determined player, he gave his best during training sessions and matches, making him famous in the dressing room. So, he did emphasize the importance of hard work. Pogba revealed that he keeps a small circle of friends. One recognized his difficulties understanding English and helped him with translation. The person is Adnan Januzaj, a winger at Real Sociedad. The other members of his ‘circle’ include his wife, former agent, Mino Raiola (of blessed memory), and his lawyer, Rafaela Pimenta.


Paul Pogba with the late Mino Raiola. (credit: Khelnow.com)

The contract situation

While watching The Pogmentary, a question ran through my mind. Is this series an attempt to vindicate Pogba from the rumours surrounding his contract and relationship with United overall? At a meeting with Rafaela and Mino Raiola towards the end of the first episode, the subject of discussion was his contract at United. At the time, he had two options – to wait another year and then leave as a free agent or leave at the end of the 2020-21 season. Raiola shrugged off the idea of waiting another year since he considered it a waste.

However, when Rafaela sought the midfielder’s opinion on the most important thing, he stated that feeling needed and being part of a club’s project were the stand-out factors. In addition, Pogba expressly revealed that he did not feel any of those things at United since no one cared about him, particularly during his injuries. Having watched that scene, it seemed as if he was leaving United for sure; we know how it turned out in the end.

Pogba considers Rafaela a part of his family. (credit: Leparsian)

In another scene, he was lamenting to Lindelof about United’s absent winning streak. They were on their way to what could have been his last game at the club. So, he needed to make it a memorable one. However, Edinson Cavani’s wonder goal was not enough to give United the win over Fulham as it ended in a tie. Before the end of the first part of The Pogmentary, Pogba remembered the period his father kicked the bucket in 2016. He recalled how he impacted his life with the drive of constantly pushing to be the best. However, like any other series, the first episode of The Pogmentary left several stones unturned. Where exactly is Pogba driving at? Let’s find out.

Episode two

The second episode begins with media reports of Karim Benzema’s astonishing return to the France squad for Euro 2020. As world champions, everyone expected France to be the most lethal team even though they were literally in the ‘group of death.’ Griezmann, who is among Pogba’s ‘circle,’ called him to discuss Benzema’s return and their desire to be together on the France national team again.

In a flash, Pogba remembered some of his childhood experiences, particularly the circumstances he had to put up with. His parents divorced, so he had to live with his mother in France. His childhood routine was pretty straightforward ( school, play soccer for several hours and go home late). To give back to the community, he built a stadium in his name for children to play soccer as those excited children were “once like him.” He hopes to inspire them to achieve their dreams.

Pogba’s escape from reality

Further, Pogba revealed one of the ways he copes with disappointments and losses- his family. He hates losing games, and it changes his mood entirely. Earlier in the first episode, his wife described him as a family man who loves playing with his two adorable boys. She opined that Pogba drops his ‘celebrity’ status whenever he is at home and acts as any reasonable father should. Towards the end of the second episode of The Pogmentary, there was a foreshadow of the inevitable end to France’s Euro 2020 dreams.

Paul Pogba is a family man. (credit: The Athletic)

Episode three

According to Pogba in episode three of the Pogmentary, every player who wishes to be a professional tries to get into the Clairefontaine Training Centre. He did attempt to get in, but he failed. After basking in the misery of failure, he received a fresh passion for pushing even harder and not giving up on his dream to become a professional. That passion led him to captain the France U-20 team to their first world cup victory after a long drought. In an interview, a reporter asked about his perception of a captain. At that young age, he gave a well-thought-out answer. He said that a captain should lead by example, guide the team and be a source of motivation when they need it the most. Pogba also recalled his masterclass against Germany in Euro 2020 and how the media and fans praised him for his dominance.

The unforseen disappointment

The make-or-break game for France in the tournament was against Switzerland. His family was present, so he had to ensure he helped the team win. Unfortunately, Switzerland took the lead. Minutes later, France pulled one back through Griezmann, then another with Benzema. The last goal was that of Pogba’s; it was a thunderbolt. His brother and mother were extremely proud of him. However, it went into penalties. Pogba unequivocally opted to be the first penalty taker for the team. He knew that the first penalty taker had a tremendous impact on the group’s mood.

Though he played his part well by scoring, Mbappe threw it all in the bin as he missed a decisive penalty, leaving Pogba distraught. As usual, he had to go to his family and stay off soccer to recover from the pain. In the next scene, Pogba cautioned his mother against reading media reports about him as they are majorly fabricated. He admitted that such lies did affect his family negatively. Over time, he has learnt to ignore them.

The outcome of Euro 2020 left Pogba devastated.
(credit: transfermarket.com)

As the third episode was about to end, another scene opened with Raiola asking Pogba critical questions concerning his contract situation with United while the latter was driving. He asked him to decide based on his thoughts about the best thing for his family, himself, his lifestyle, and his brand. Raiola also pointed out a great divide in his national team and club confidence; he believed that something prevented Pogba from giving his best at Manchester United. Pogba agreed as he earlier stated that the France national team is his safe and happy space. Then, the big question preceded the end of the third episode— did United make another offer?

Episode four

Many United fans know that Sir Alex Ferguson disliked Minor Raiola’s attitude to business. Before Pogba left for Juventus, Ferguson believed that Raiola ‘overvalued’ the player. But maybe Pogba proved Fergie wrong as United later came back for him, purchasing the midfielder for a world-record fee. Still on Raiola, episode four starts with his opinion on the media’s version of Pogba’s contract details that United offered. He referred to the reported €300,000 a week wage as lies. Consequently, we do not know the exact amount United offered Pogba, as Raiola opined that the contract did not reflect United’s desire for him to remain at the club.

The irony lies in the fact that throughout The Pogmentary, Raiola kept saying that it was not about “money.” Without flinching, Pogba called United bluffers. According to him, “how can you tell a player you really want him and offer him nothing.” This should be the part that got people talking as they could not understand why Pogba regarded a huge contract that would make him among the highest-paid players in the league as ‘nothing.’

Pogba’s mentality concerning his children

Pogba revealed his relationship with Blaise Matuidi, and they both discussed the vitality of self-image and how difficult it was growing up. As family men, they admitted that giving their children the best is essential. But, they must teach them the value of hard work— nothing comes easy. The midfielder rates basketball highly as he admires legends like Michael Jordan and Lebron James. It is his second favourite sport. He also gave viewers an insight into how he deals with injuries (staying strong mentally) and his private fitness sessions. He took a jibe at people criticizing him because they think he always parties—-they do not know about his dedication to fitness. Moving on, Paul Pogba decided to see the end of his contract, reassuring his commitment to making his last year the best one yet.

Pogba and Matuidi having a heart to heart discussion. (credit: The Athletic)

Episode five

The final episode of The Pogmentary focuses on his injury while training with the France national team in preparation for the World Cup. It prevented him from playing several games during his last season at the club. Before that scene, Pogba revealed his excitement with the recruitment of Ronaldo and ‘Champions League Varane.’ He believed that the team needed their experience and expertise. He became overwhelmed with the thought of training with a Ballon D’or winner- Ronaldo.

Pogba briefly narrated what transpired between him and Jose Mourinho. He travelled to recover from his injury as soon as he could. Paparazzi took a picture of him and his wife, and Mourinho sent it to Raiola. Pogba did not take that lightly as he tried making Mourinho understand that he is different from ‘other players’ because he works hard even while injured.

Tough love

In addition to his relationship with Mourinho, Pogba underlined his love for straightforward managers. This suggests that Ralf Rangnick was not straight with him following the time he said that convincing a player to stay at a club was not his duty. Now, to the jaw-breaking question about his contract situation— Pogba made a controversial statement before the end of The Pogmentary. That may be another reason for the stick the show has received lately. He said, “my thought process is to show Manchester they should not have waited this long to offer a contract and to show them that they made a mistake in not offering a contract.”

Pogba believes United made a mistake with his contract. (credit: Goal.com)

Conclusion

What a pretty mysterious and puzzling way to end a documentary! Such a statement must have left several questions in viewers’ minds. Did United not offer Pogba an improved contract? What has he contributed to the team? Does his performance correspond with the reportedly improved contract? Various media outlets believe he is close to a return to Juventus. So, all eyes must be on him for the next season. Let’s see whether United did make a mistake in offering the Frenchman “nothing.”

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Author: Eghons Azeke

My name is Eghonghon. I am a fun-loving, hardworking and self-motivated writer who supports the biggest club in the world!

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