Mumbai (AFP) – Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan said it’s only a matter of time before underperforming midfielder Paul Pogba starts justifying his world-record price tag for Jose Mourinho’s lacklustre side.
Forlan, now playing for India’s Mumbai City FC, endured a torrid start to his Red Devils career but went on to become a fan favourite and believes that Frenchman Pogba will too.
Forlan said the 89-million-pound ($115.7 million, 103.7 million euros) signing from Juventus just needs a while to adapt from Italy to the English top flight.
“He played in England of course when he was younger and he has quality so it’s a matter of time and he will be playing really well,” the ex-Atletico Madrid star told AFP.
Pogba, who started his career at Old Trafford before rejoining after four trophy-laden seasons in Turin, turned in another below-par performance at the weekend as United slumped to a third consecutive defeat.
United ended their losing streak on Wednesday night, prevailing 3-1 over third-tier Northampton Town in the English Football League Cup, although Pogba was left out of the squad.
Mourinho was appointed United boss to mount a challenge for their first Premier League title since 2013, but after five games they are already six points behind bitter rivals Manchester City, who are yet to slip up.
Forlan, who struggled for goals but helped win the league during his two-year spell in Manchester, is not surprised that Mourinho’s new-look side are still to gel and he urged fans to be patient.
“It’s difficult to adjust — new manager, some new players,” the Uruguayan said in a phone interview from Dubai on Tuesday, where Mumbai were preparing for the third Indian Super League season.
– Cult hero –
“They have some good players and of course you need time for everybody, but unluckily in football, time is not what you have every time.
“But I think the directors and everybody knows that this could happen and that some games you have to be patient,” Forlan added.
The former Uruguay international also won the FA Cup and Community Shield while at Manchester United from 2002 to 2004, but took more than a dozen games to score his first Premier League goal.
“I was playing only 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes for the first five months. That makes it difficult for any player in the world to adapt at a new club,” he explained.
“When I had the opportunity to play more regularly in the next season I started to score goals and play well,” added Forlan, who ended up a cult hero amongst United fans for scoring a double against Liverpool.
Forlan, who went on to play for Spanish side Villareal and Japan’s Cerezo Osaka, will make his India debut when Mumbai line up against Pune on October 3.
He says he has rejected offers from clubs in England, Spain and Italy to play in the three-month Indian season, and has no plans to retire once his stint with Mumbai finishes in mid December.
“I would love to continue playing. I’m 37 years old and at a moment (in my career) where I don’t have to impress anybody,” said Forlan, scorer of 36 goals in 112 internationals.
“If someone wants me to be in the team they know what I am capable of.”