The following list of attributes could easily be bestowed upon Manchester City outcast Yaya Toure:
• Lacks intensity without the ball
• Poor at tracking runners
• Undisciplined in a positional sense
• Can’t play in a midfield pair, best when given licence to venture forward in a central trio
• Capable of bullying teams through his driving runs from midfield
• Keen to switch it on when the opportunity arises to have an impact in the final third
• A midfield powerhouse
One of the big problems Man City had in the Premier League before Pep Guardiola arrived at the Etihad was how to get the most out of Toure.
At home to weaker Premier League opponents they could get away with fielding him in a midfield two, as City would dominate possession and the opposition wouldn’t commit substantial numbers forward on the counter attack.
Play an energetic midfielder with bags of stamina alongside Toure and they could effectively cover the space ideally required of two men. The Ivorian could then roam as he pleased to have a big impact on a game in an attacking sense.
However, against the bigger teams, especially in Europe, Toure’s defensive indiscipline and desire was often taken advantage of, with too many pockets of space in the City midfield capitalised on.
That same list of attributes could now ring true of Manchester United’s world-record signing Paul Pogba.
Jamie Carragher dug out the Frenchman for individual criticism following the Red Devils’ 2-1 Manchester derby defeat, providing multiple snippets on Monday Night Football of Pogba leaving midfield teammate Marouane Fellaini in the defensive lurch.
He has much the same skill-set as Toure and threatens to pose similar tactical dilemmas for Jose Mourinho.
City never really switched to a 4-3-3 formation which would have offered more balance, partly because it wouldn’t have allowed David Silva to dictate a game and find space between the lines in a number-10 role.
Yet, the decision was justified in the 2013/14 campaign when Toure scored 20 goals from midfield and laid on nine assists to help his team to the English top-flight title by two points.
It would need such numbers from Pogba if Man Utd’s odds to win the Premier League of 11/2 are to prove attractive.