That’s the verdict of journalist Duncan Castles, who feels the Frenchman produced one of his worst performances in a United shirt at Molineux.
Pogba was stripped of the captaincy by Solskjaer’s predecessor Jose Mourinho earlier in the season as the pair’s relationship went south.
But the interim United boss decided to hand him the armband again in a 2-1 defeat by Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, which saw goals from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota dump the Red Devils out of the FA Cup despite a late strike from Marcus Rashford.
And Castles believes Solskjaer’s decision to name Pogba captain was one of his biggest mistakes in the Old Trafford hot-seat.
“I really do not understand why he chose to make Paul Pogba captain of the team in the same season in which he’d been stripped of the captaincy”
“I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hasn’t made many mistakes since he became manager of Manchester United, but I really do not understand why he chose to make Paul Pogba captain of the team in the same season in which he’d been stripped of the captaincy in front of the rest of the players for those press comments that I mentioned earlier,” he told The Transfer Window podcast.
“Stripped of the captaincy in a way that the other players didn’t particularly object to. They understood the reasons for it because he wasn’t acting as a captain.
“Now Solskjaer’s argument would be that Pogba’s played very well for him during the period that he’s been in charge of the club, which is correct, and therefore you dispense with what has happened in the past.
“But I think there’s a real naivety about that kind of reasoning, because what happened in the past happened. The whole squad that he works with saw what happened, they’ve seen the way that Pogba has behaved over his three years at the club, they’ve seen the potential for him and for his agent, remember, an agent who last season went around the major clubs in Europe, including direct rivals Manchester City, offering his player to them because the player wasn’t happy with his situation at Manchester United.”
Castles’ claim came after:
He continued: “All of those things are facts and facts that everyone in the football club is aware of. So if you choose to make that man captain again, you better have the expectation that he will give you a response to the captaincy that is worthy of it, i.e. he performs as the best player, the most committed player, as a leader on the field, that merits being the captain.
“What did he do in the game when he gets the captaincy back? Probably delivers the worst performance of certainly Solskjaer’s time at the club and one of his worst performances of his entire time at Manchester United. A performance that we’ve seen far too often from Pogba.
“Against difficult opponents, it was obviously gonna be a tough match for Manchester United in that Wolves are one of the most coherent teams, quite happy to counter attack, weren’t gonna play to the way Solskjaer has succeeded against more difficult teams this season – which is to play a more counter-attacking style and hit on the break. Wolves were too canny to make themselves susceptible to that and you end up with a poor performance from your captain, tumbling out of the one realistic chance of winning silverware this season in that first-half season as a manager.
I don’t think it will make a difference to Solskjaer getting the job full-time, but it might make a difference to Solskjaer retaining the job, because if Solskjaer had managed to get through that tie he had a very realistic chance of winning the FA Cup, because it would be essentially Manchester City as the real strong opposition, the blue-chip opposition, potential opposition going to the final.
“If Solskjaer had won the FA Cup, coming in as a caretaker, his first proper chance at winning silverware, that puts him in a far stronger position down the line in terms of he came in, the dressing room was a mess, Solskjaer turned it around, he won silverware straight away, if his second season doesn’t go to plan, which I suspect there’s a very good chance it won’t for the fundamental structural problems, many structural problems, that Manchester United have, and the squad they have which is not good enough to win the Premier League title, then the questions will start being asked and he won’t have that insurance policy of: ’I won silverware first half-season’.
“It will be: ’yeah he started really well and the fans liked it and he got the job, but what’s happening this season? He’s not in with a realistic shout of the title, not doing well in the Champions League’ etcetera etcetera and then the questions start being asked.
“Then the potential for the Glazers to say: ‘right, we need to get a top-level manager in again to solve this problem’, it becomes much higher.
“So these sort of decisions have repercussions and I’m surprise Solskjaer fell into this mistake so easily, because it was an obvious mistake for anyone who knows what’s been going on at that club well. I think it’s probably an obvious mistake even for people watching that club from the outside.”