Paul Pogba believes Manchester United are now a “proper team”, the midfielder pointing to a newly achieved balance between attack and defence.
United host Southampton on Monday evening, having won their past four league games in an unbeaten run of 17 in all competitions. With Chelsea and Leicester City losing at the weekend, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side can leapfrog both and take third position with three matches remaining if Saints are beaten.
A win or draw would equal the club’s best sequence with no defeat for seven years and Pogba is clear Solskjær’s side are the most promising of the Frenchman’s four years since returning to United.
“You can call it a proper team,” he told United Review. “Sometimes before we were maybe too defensive or too offensive and we didn’t have this balance or this control. Now you can see we have that balance and there is more structure – we’ve been working hard on that.
“The improvement is huge and you can tell that. It’s always good to have that improvement, but you don’t want to stop it, you know you have to keep working.”
If United continue the current trajectory Pogba believes nothing can stop the team from returning to the top. He said: “There is a lot of stuff to do, we are not there yet, but we are on the way, and if we keep doing what we’re doing now, then I think there is nothing that can stop us to get to where we should be. We feel great. That is the mentality now – you have a positive mentality when you have a good result, but you also have to have the ability to get through the games like we did in the last few games.
“Every game is a final and we have to get the result that we need – that’s the mindset. It’s never enough for us”
United are in the FA Cup semi-finals and all but through to the Europa League quarter-finals. “United is about trophies, we know that,” Pogba said. “And there are trophies we know we can get and we can win.”
Solskjær offered an insight into his management style when discussing how Harry Maguire was assessed before last summer’s £80m purchase of the defender. “You follow him, you’ve watched his Instagram account, you watch Twitter,” he told The High Performance podcast. “Mick Phelan [the United assistant] had him at Hull City [when manager]. And you go back to the scout that scouted him when he was 15, 16.
“You watch him and you say: ‘Well, rainy day at Stoke, he steps up, he’s a winner.’ Or he picked up the ball and gave it to the player, or he’s respectful when off the pitch – shakes everyone’s hand – it’s those little things. You’re looking at human qualities as well.”
Solskjær also said Sir Alex Ferguson, his manager when a United striker, had offered counsel when the side had rocky phases. “I’ve had some fantastic support from Sir Alex in the hard times – when you lose the game at Man United it is a crisis. And through the difficult periods, he’s been a very, very good support to me. We keep texting each other [and] he rings me.”