Manchester United cruised their way to an easy 3-0 win against FC Basel in their UEFA Champions League opener this Tuesday. However, things were far from perfect for The Red Devils in this contest. Fans were forced to witness how Paul Pogba left the game with an injury in the 18th minute. There is no doubt the French is one of the team’s most important players, and him missing an extended period of time would be devastating for the club.
Actually devastating sounds like a stretch. We are not going to say that Pogba is “one more player” on the squad, because he isn’t. The is one of the top midfielders in the world, and his absence will be felt considerably. But United have enough depth to mask his absence for a few weeks. In fact, Marouane Fellaini replaced Pogba, and the Belgian scored the first goal against Basel with a thumping header. Fellaini is nowhere near Pogba in terms of talent and playmaking ability, but he adds some much-needed strength and grit in the middle of the park.
Manager’s Reaction and Potential Replacements
Mourinho did not sound sad in his post-game conference when asked about Pogba’s status. He told MUTV: “I don’t know. I just know from experience it’s a muscular injury. In my experience, muscular injury stops you from playing for a few weeks, I think.
“It looks for me too [like a hamstring injury] but I haven’t spoken yet to the medical department.
“Squads are for this, squads are for injuries, squads are for suspensions. We don’t cry with injuries. So if no Paul for Sunday, we have [Ander] Herrera, we have [Michael] Carrick, we have Fellaini and we have [Nemanja] Matic.”
And honestly, he is right. Herrera was one of the best players for United last season, and has enough talent to recover his starting spot in midfield. Fellaini has been used as a secret weapon off the bench, but he would form a great partnership alongside Matic. And while Carrick might be the worst option available on the squad, we won’t say he is a bad player by any means.
What’s Next For United?
United’s next match will be against Everton this Sunday at Old Trafford. And considering Pogba likely suffered a hamstring injury, he won’t be available for that game – or the next upcoming ones. Considering the calendar is quite packed in the next few weeks, it wouldn’t be crazy to think Pogba won’t return until after the international break in October. If that’s the case, Pogba would miss the following matches:
Everton (Premier League, at home, September 17)Burton Albion (Carabao Cup, at home, September 20)Southampton (Premier League, away, September 23)CSKA Moscow (Champions League, away, September 27)Crystal Palace (Premier League, home, September 30)
This would mean Pogba would be available for the Derby against Liverpool on October 14. That’s not the ideal scenario, but United have enough depth to cover for him while he’s gone. After all, “that’s what squads are for”, as Mourinho said. And United will have to test their depth in a tough run of fixtures in the coming weeks.