Richard Buxton: Jose should make Pogba the focal point
War of attrition can be resolved by shifting midfielder into a more central role than forcing him to shape-shift to a rigid ideal
Paul Pogba is tailor-made for football's YouTube generation.
Short attention spans vaunt him a world-beater and one of the greatest players of his era.
Five-second bursts of showmanship often mask, and even atone for, otherwise unexceptional outings from the France international.
Those with a great attention to detail see a passenger; incapable of delivering beyond momentary bouts of showboating which serve as little more than a minor distraction.
Against Bournemouth yesterday morning (Singapore time), however, Manchester United's record signing appeared to finally strike a balance between the two extremes.
Before the 2-0 win at the Vitality Stadium, there appeared to be little in the way of a happy medium.
From exceptional against Manchester City to abject against West Brom, wrestling with consistency had played firmly into Jose Mourinho's hands in the pair's war of attrition.
Pogba responded to Mourinho's gauntlet by producing a performance in his manager's own image.
On the English coast, he became a focal point without needlessly stealing focus; he operated as a flawless conductor rather than as a costly blunt instrument; simplicity was favoured over self- indulgence.
Numerous players in Pogba's mould have failed at Old Trafford before flourishing elsewhere.
Angel Di Maria recently lifted the Ligue 1 title at a canter with Paris Saint-Germain, while Wilfried Zaha and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have already won back hearts and minds by staying in the EPL.
A refusal to relent on their principles was ultimately the undoing of their respective United stints.
Glamour trumped grit every time. Pogba's name appeared destined to join that list of players who were perfect fits for what was once synonymous with the Theatre of Dreams.
Speculation surrounding his Red Devils future, whether peddled by Mourinho aides or his own larger-than-life agent, will have weighed heavily on a player with an inflated sense of self-image.
Yet he has pulled back a second coming from the brink of being rendered a false prophecy with a simple deviation from the mistakes of his predecessors.
This could be the making of his United career. If he allows it, it also promises to be a defining moment for Mourinho's tenure.
Sunday morning's (Singapore time) FA Cup semi-final with Tottenham offers a shot at redemption for both parties.
It was at Wembley, barely three months ago, that the Special One stopped skirting around his £89 million (S$165.9m) signing and made his contempt a public affair.
Shifting Pogba into a more central role, rather than the ineffectual holding one occupied against the Lilywhites in late January, will allow Mourinho to fashion a team around the former world-record signing rather than forcing him to shape-shift to a rigid ideal.
Mauricio Pochettino's side will pose a far greater challenge to Pogba than Bournemouth, on the cusp of the EPL's traditional 40-point safety threshold, did. He is often found wanting against teams with a more risk-averse game plan than that of the Cherries.
Opportunities to bask in the spotlight and execute a trademark flair trick, like the slide-rule pass for Romelu Lukaku, will be in similarly short supply. Aimlessly hunting down possession is unlikely to be afforded against the likes of Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama.
But a willingness to finally embrace his manager's uncompromising approach means that Mourinho still can afford to have it all by simply making Pogba a belated focal point.
Only bruising ego prevents United's current conundrum from being easily resolved.