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Managing Madrid Roundtable: Pogba Sets The Slack Group On Fire

Kiyan posts a comment about Pogba in Managing Madrid's slack group and everyone goes nuts.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

As of late, the debate on whether or not to bring Pogba to the Santiago Bernabeu has plunged Managing Madrid into turmoil. Comments sections in every article have seen this topic furiously debated and eventually the MM staff caught the Pogba bug. Read on to find out how Kiyan's nonchalant comment set our slack group on fire.

(Disclaimer: Literally only a few words were edited for spelling accuracy. The rest has been copied and pasted verbatim)


Kiyan Sobhani: @group the Pogba opinions are so interesting. I had no idea fans felt that strongly against his signing. Also, those who are worried about his price tag have no idea how football economics work. I'll have to write something about this.

Kevin McCauley (Chief Editor for SBN Soccer): anyone who is against signing pogba is dumb imo

he's the best young midfielder in the world, Madrid have plenty of money, and even if he's a bust he'll have huge resale value

if he wants to sign for you, you sign him, period

anyone who's against it is one, two, or all of the following:

1. Emotionally reacting to a large number that they find to be overwhelming
2. A person with very bad football opinions
3. Racist

Kiyan: Kevin, you have to look at it from more angles than that.

Kevin: ok

Kiyan: 4. Sexist

Kevin: 4. Emotionally attached to Casemiro and/or Modric in a way that does not allow them to view Pogba's signing rationally

that's also possible

and understandable from fans

but also they're wrong as hell

Kiyan: But really, it's also about fit. I wouldn't prioritize his signing, but I also wouldn't turn it down.

Kante fills the need much more than Pogba does.

Sure, you make it work with Pogba. But you're also perpetually playing without a pure anchor

Kevin: He can play the linking or most advanced role in a 3, or in a double pivot, or as a 10. He can fit in any role.

You're Real Madrid, this isn't an either or.

Sign both

I love love love love love Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, but if Pogba wants to come, and you want Pogba and a pure DM, you sell one of them. I think it's a no-brainer.

Kiyan: Then you're discarding your system, and you're benching one of Kroos/Kante/Pogba/Modric. Not a single one of those guys is a bench player

Kroos would be your DM if Pogba came. That's fine sometimes. Sometimes.

Again, not against his signing, he's great - you make it work. But it's not dumb to chose not to prioritize it

Kevin: I think that if Pogba's agent rings you up and says he's decided, the club he wants to play for is Real Madrid

you sell one of Modric or Kroos and sign him

and then also sign a DM

Kiyan: That's one idea. Won't go down well with, anyone. But it's at least something.

But it's like if Messi calls. Do you sell Ronaldo to make it work?

Kevin: If I was a Madrid fan, and it came out that Pogba's No. 1 choice was Madrid but they chose not to sign him, I would be furious.

I would call for Perez to step down and Zidane to be sacked, I'd lose my mind

it's totally unthinkable, of course you sign him if he wants to come

Kiyan: I don't think he's better than Modric or Kroos. But at that point, you're purchasing upside and investing in the future.

Gabe Lezra: I entirely agree with @kevinmccauley

I think there's a pathology with a certain types of Madrid fans

It is the response to the failure of galactico 1

It's the same people who didn't want Bale

Where any move that brings in a high priced player at the "expense" of ESPECIALLY a defensive minded player that people see as "doing the dirty work" is going to be rejected out of hand

Like the idea that you'd rather have Casemiro than Pogba is simply an incorrect opinion

Kiyan: Gabe, that was different. We had to sell Ozil to make room for Bale. Kevin's proposal is to sell Modric / Kroos - would you pull that trigger? It's the only solution to freeing Kroos from that DM role

Gabe: I wouldn't sell

Madrid need to bolster depth

Kiyan: Exactly, so you have Kroos as the DM.

I'm just playin devil's advocate here.

Gabe: I don't understand the issue here

Its Madrid, sign anyone

He's a starter

From day 1

But I don't think price should factor into this. Madrid have a tremendous amount of money, insane revenue, and the ability to borrow on demand at comparably non existent interest rates

Kiyan: Right. I honestly think we should separate the financial aspect of this and solely talk about the fit of Pogba as a player.

Which, again... Full circle.

Gabe: I think having 5 of the world's 10-15 best midfielders to mix and match is a good thing especially when heading in to a transfer ban

Kiyan: Who are the 5?

Timm Higgins: Is it weird to not care either way?

Good of we do, ZZ will make it work. And if we don't I think we're fine with the personnel on hand

Gabe: Kroos, Modric, Pogba, Isco, James (add Kante and subtract someone if you want)

Kiyan: Ah, ok. Fair.

Om Arvind (the crowd cheers!): The end of the argument should always be the system; what system would work best and who fits it.

Pogba will not be optimally used as a DM and to use him best he needs to be stuck into Modric's or Kroos' role. He is not as good as either of the two to justify benching them.

Kiyan: Yep

I mean, this isn't like the Warriors' getting KD. They lose nothing, gain everything. Essentially replace Barnes with KD without a huge firesale. This is, not that. It's a more forced squeeze.

Om: If Modric was 35 I would take this deal in a heartbeat. Instead he's 30, giving us at lest 3 more years of the world's best CM and 2 more years of WC play.

Kiyan: Yeah, the idea of Modric being old is premature. He has a good 3 years and change left.

Om: Also, what happens to Kovacic, a player I have not given up on one bit.

Kiyan: u've been spending too much time talking to Miran

Om: I legitimately do not believe he has been given a proper chance and he is the second most promising CM prospect right now.

He is a lot closer to Modric anyway and does not need 40 starts a season like Pogba will desire. He fills the "modric replacement need" without taking too much time from Modric.

Kiyan: He's too good to be where he is in the depth chart. But I also worry about how much Zidane trusts him. That position needs to shed some fat, which may or may not happen given the transfer ban

Om: We should do roundtable on pogba

In fact haven't we just done one kinda?

Timm: I'm thinking Kovacic will either be loaned or sold.

Gabe: So you mix and match lineups for a year or two until some of the older players start to break down, and then you move players around again then. Having more options is a good thing.

If the "system" is so static that it can't accommodate a player as versatile as pogba then the system is bad

Plus Zidane is asking for him.

This isn't some bullshit vanity but, this is the coach saying, "please bring me this player I like him and I think he will help my team"

Kiyan: If Zidane says that, I fully trust him, no doubt.

Gabe: And it just so happens that the player in question is an unquestioned star with immense marketing potential, who is young, physically gifted and immensely talented with absurd projection

Kiyan: I didn't know he indicated he wanted him. I know he's praised him, but I wasn't sure how he sees the fit. If he wants him, yeah, fully trust his judgement.

Gabe: All reports indicate that Zidane is driving this move. Florentino hates raiola and wouldn't want to deal with him otherwise

Meh. I'm gonna stop trying to sell this signing tbh. I don't think my arguments can really sway people. I see the points about the system or whatever, I just really disagree. And I clearly have more appetite for expanding the roster than I think is the general feeling

It's not about the system being rigid, it's about the fact that there is no way u can juggle a midfield with modric-kroos-pogba for two spots without one being unhappy. All three are certain starters. U could bench casemiro but then the weaknesses of having kroos as a DLP returns. A dm is the real signing we need to make in midfield. Pogba is not a DM.

Kiyan: I'm honestly not in the 'NO' category, but I am in the 'no' category. For all I know, he comes, and it works beautifully. It could go either way.

Ideally Krychowiak would've been our midfield signing and then we'd be done for that position. But we didn't even consider it and PSG stole him for a bargain. Next best bet is Kante.

Om: I'm not vehemently against pogba. If he comes it's not a disaster, but we aren't optimally using our mid.

The different quality Pogba would bring us is B2B dynamism, but he'd only bring it in either modric's or kroos' position. He's not better than either of those two to kick them out of the team.

Gabe: I just don't agree with any of that. I don't agree that you can't juggle them. I don't agree that he couldn't play next to those two. I don't agree that Pogba couldn't play DM well. I don't think Pogba presents a particularly more complicated lineup question than adding Kante, in fact I think Pogba fits in easier because of his flexibility.

Om: You'll have to explain your reasoning to me further for me to understand how modric, kroos, and pogba can fight for two spots. This is RM. If a guy comes for 100 mil he's starting every game. That means casemiro is benched and either kroos or pogba is the DM. Kroos as the DM is not optimal at all, because despite him getting better at the role, he still does not possess the work-rate and the same tackling+interceptive abilities of a proper DM. With kroos anchoring the midfield we are defensively suspect. If pogba goes back, you restrict him into a role where he is no longer special nor worth the 100 mil spent on him. What makes pogba so amazing is his free roaming dynamism and ability to create goals. You eliminate all of that if you make him play DM. He also isn't in the mold of a controlling midfielder, so he'd be a worse option than kroos at DM. Kante's B2B presence would also be restricted when anchoring RM's midfield, but he is the best ball winning midfielder in the world and has excelled as an anchor for France in the EUROs. He's not my ideal choice for DM at RM, but he certainly fits the role better than Pogba.

Kiyan: But Gabe do you agree that we need to sign Pedro

Gabe: I have a lot of issues with that analysis, for a number of reasons that I'm not ready to get into right now, sadly, as I'm still working

Suffice to say that I don't agree with a number of the premises

Mike Platania: My piping hot take is:

I'm okay if Pogba comes, or if he doesn't

Gabe: Love Futurama

Such a goddamn good show

So Om, here are the premises i have an issue with:

(1) A guy comes in for 100m he's starting every game. I'm not sure. James didn't and he's a galactico signing. Bale didn't always, though I thought he should have.

(2) you're very rigid on what you see as our "system". Madrid HAS to have a DM. It has to run a 4-3-3. I'm not sure. I think having a number of players that are versatile could allow for structural flexibility that we haven't actually had the ability to try since Mourinho and the first season of Ancelotti. I think putting Pogba on Madrid could free Madrid up to experiment with tactical systems that could be really revolutionary.

(3) Kroos in DM is not optimal/Pogba can't play farther back. I disagree for a couple reasons. First, I think Kroos showed a lot of progress over the season as a defensive anchor. He's young and learning is definitely in the cards with him, I think. Plus, the more we increase tactical flexibility Madrid could work on systems that allow players to shuttle between positions seamlessly. Pogba and Kroos could share those duties over the course of a season.

(3)(B) I think much of that analysis goes for Pogba as well! He's young he has an incredible motor, incredible physique and he has shown aptitude for defensive positioning and his tackling has improved tremendously

AND I think there will be games where a defensive presence is important to the extent that a purely defensive midfielder will be important. Putting aside whether Pogba could play the effectively (I think he could) he at least brings the option of pairing him with say Casemiro as a double pivot for example

(4) pogba's dynamism is one of many reasons he's a great player. His positional flexibility is another big part of that. His motor, his physique and his ability to play both sides of the pitch well is aanother. He's an incredible player with a lot of qualities that he brings to a team.

(5) the idea that Madrid needs to pen itself into fitting one small need versus bringing in a superstar talent with huge potential who is incredibly versatile. If you're a basketball team you don't say no to Anthony Davis. If you can sign him you fucking sign him. It doesn't matter if you already have Pau Gasol and Karl Anthony Towns

You make room for the dude because he's fucking incredible. And if you have to figure out a rotation that works you figure it out

Om: 1) James came in the 14/15 season and was undroppable. He had 37 starts & only 1 substitute appearance. Without the two injuries that took him out of 11 games he would've surely had more starts. Gareth Bale benched a supremely in-form Di Maria instantly in the 13/14 season & always started when fit in 14/15 even when he was clearly off-form.

2) What systems are you looking at? You can't say "bring in Pogba and figure it out later." What is the best system that gets the best uses Pogba, keeps Madrid defensively stable, and also keeps Modric & Kroos happy? Definitely not a double-pivot, we would get defensively torn apart. Having a back three completely wastes our fullbacks. A diamond formation requires two B2B midfielders, knocks out one of the BBC, and forces a system on a coach that still hasn't fully figured out how to utilize the 4-3-3 to its full capabilities.

3) Kroos is definitely improving at the position in terms of tackling and intercepting, but there is no evidence that he has figured out his spacing issues in front of the back four and that he is better used there than as a CM pushed farther up in a 4-3-3. Also how do you propose shuttling between Pogba and Kroos? Do you push Pogba back when RM have lost possession or the other way around? Why would you constantly switch the two in a position that requires immense discipline? Does this not leave an immensely obvious tactical flaw to exploit in fast transition attacks?

3)(B) All of that is true, but putting him as a DM totally wastes his talents. His best quality is his ability to affect the final third. He averages an incredible 3/4.9 dribbles p90, 1.6 key passes p90, & 3.7 shots p90 in the Serie A. Playing him as a DM limits all of this and limits so much of what makes Pogba incredible.

4) I agree, which is why I don't think signing him is a disaster. However he is not a DM, or at least, playing him there greatly limits his capabilities.

5) I completely did not get that basketball analogy. Anyway, this idea that you sign someone simply because they are incredible is incredibly flawed. You cannot build a team like that. This is the problem with the James signing. Why not get Hazard while you're at it, the best LW prospect after Neymar in terms of reaching Messi-Ronaldo level (despite his poor season at Chelsea he is undeniably an incredible player)? We don't get him because you cannot fit him into the squad and because bringing him would dis-balance the squad. What about Kovacic: a player who fits our needs better, a player who is probably the second best CM prospect behind Pogba, and a player who will be willing and is possible for the coach to rotate? Is his future at RM to be destroyed because we want a player simply because "he's fucking incredible?" The collective system of the squad trumps all, and it is impossible for RM to snatch the all the best in each position. We have two players who are better than Pogba in his position and that's that for me.

Gabe: Ok cool. So here's my thinking: i think overall we're disagreeing on two fundamental things. First, I think you're wedded to the idea of Pogba as a single thing--a certain type of player with one set of attributes that does one or two things well. I'm saying that Pogba does not fit that characterization. He's a much more flexible player, a physical and talent specimen that defies that characterization. He's young enough to learn and adapt to multiple positions. The classic issue with the model is that players come in to supplement an area where the team is strong; I just don't see that as the case here because Pogba fits so many different positions. James and even Bale are pretty singular position players; Pogba is really not. I don't think putting him as DM wastes his talents and I don't think having him run a transition defense leaves a tactical flaw to exploit. Second, the basketball analogy is on point here because what it's doing is presenting a situation where you have a seeming glut of talent at a position but where you can add to that strength to bring in a complimentary piece that both adds to the team right away and provides a base on which to build for the future.

Finally, I think it's a bit pedantic to reduce my arguments to "he's fucking incredible". I don't think Kovacic is in the same realm of talent as Pogba so if the question is "do you jettison a player that has not convinced our coach in favor of a player the coach (and i) rate as a future balon d'or winner?" then the answer is yes and I'd make that deal in a heartbeat

Kiyan: He's not tactically great nor is he really that good in his positioning or defensive skillset. He's a box-to-box midfielder who can tackle and attack. He is essentially a more agile Kroos (someone who thrives next a more defensively astute midfielder who can mask his defensive issues).

It's a stretch to rely too much on his versatility in that sense.

Gabe: Ultimately this is a disagreement about how we rate him I think

Like, I think his versatility is a huge deal

Kiyan: I mean, he does better with someone like that next to him, that's just truth.

This really comes back around to Kroos and his ability to anchor the midfielder for an entire season.

Om: @gabelezra: I wasn't making fun of your basketball analogy, I legitimately don't get it because I don't know who those people are.

Kiyan: Yeah, that's ur biggest weakness Om

Basketball analogies are goat

Om: lol


And just like that, it ended.

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