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MARTIN SAMUEL: Maybe Paul Pogba just isn't that vital for Manchester United any more… after years of mediocrity it is becoming harder to invest in claims of his transformative qualities

Friday night was supposed to be, what, the fourth coming of Paul Pogba?

Count them. There was the first, when he joined from Juventus in 2016 for a world record transfer fee.

He was the player who would fire the Jose Mourinho era at Manchester United. The powerhouse midfielder the club had been lacking since, well, the teenage prodigy Pogba left.

He was going to be the modern Patrick Vieira. Wayne Rooney spoke of the physical battle Pogba presented, even in training. He said tackling Pogba hurt, even when he didn’t intend it to.

Pogba could not quite deliver on those mighty expectations, so there was the second coming.

That was 2017, his next season, when it was thought he would build on strong performances in Europe by getting to grips with the demands of the Premier League slog.

It was pointed out Pogba hadn’t played at the top level in England before. It would have been as big a shock to him as to any foreign player. This year would be different. It wasn’t.

At times, he couldn’t get in ahead of Scott McTominay.

Then there was the third coming, in 2018, when Pogba was made captain. He lost that role, fell out with the doomed Mourinho and, despite a brief resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, ended the campaign in conflict with fans as United lost at home to Cardiff.

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