Paul Pogba is misunderstood at Manchester United, says Brian McClair, with the £89 million midfielder not another Patrick Vieira.
As one of the most expensive footballers of all-time, much is expected of the 24-year-old every time he takes to the field.
He has struggled to convince of late, with Jose Mourinho unceremoniously benching a global superstar amid a long-running debate regarding his best position and contribution to the cause.
McClair believes those arguments, along with the perception of what a performer boasting Pogba’s physical qualities should be, mean the France international is not being played to his strengths.
A former player and youth team coach at Old Trafford told The Telegraph on a player he helped to nurture through United’s academy system: “We viewed him as a creative player.
“I think people may get the idea because of his size he is a Patrick Vieira but that’s not what his attributes are about. His is about creating and scoring goals. He’s an old inside left.”
While Pogba has struggled to live up to expectations upon his return to Old Trafford, fellow academy graduates have been embraced by Jose Mourinho.
Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford are established members of the Red Devils’ ranks, while Scott McTominay has forced his way into the fold over recent weeks after proving his worth.
McClair added: “No one would have taken Jesse Lingard when he was 16 because he had the skeletal age of a 13-year-old. We allowed him to take that opportunity.
“Scott McTominay had all sorts of problems with his growth. He was growing too fast and his body had to catch up and he missed time through injury. You support them in a different way. At one point we decided to tell him he has got an extra year because he’s fretting about it all the time.
“Jesse was one of the best players all the way through in each age group. He was brave. You just have to wait for them.
“They are always going to grow, you just don’t know when. They have all the other attributes. The biggest thing is to be patient with them. You have to be. They are going through all sorts of stuff.
“A few have a stellar rise later but you can ask who were the best players in the youngest age groups and the coaches will say Marcus, McTominay, Jesse – even at seven or eight. We had to believe that would continue.
“The biggest challenge for any young boy is getting through puberty: looking at themselves in the mirror, styling their hair, putting smelly stuff on and noticing girls. If they get through that and still love football they have a chance.”