by Victor Ndulewe (@ndulewe)
Football has taught us that we will always have our different preferences. There are so many reasons why fans like who they like. Some do for the attitude, some for the looks, some because of where they are from, some for football reasons, etc.
Some like footballers because they are effective for when they use them on the PlayStation. It is all about different strokes for different folks.
However, when it comes to choosing who is better, we try to be objective and aggregate football qualities; some of these qualities go beyond talent; to influence on the game and team mates, including work ethic. Talent is just not enough sometimes and Jonjo Shelvey’s case is a perfect example. The attitude of a player is paramount to either unlocking more of those potential in him or extinguishing it.
It is on this note that I will look at two fantastic midfield players in Paul Labille Pogba and Kevin De Bruyne who both ply their trade in the city of Manchester.
These two players are extremely talented, can dribble with the ball, make an audacious pass, create chances and can score goals with both feet. They have also got a stinging shot in those legs, which is something I expect so much from midfielders having watched the way Paul Scholes, Steven Gerard and Frank Lampard scored those great goals from outside the box consistently throughout their careers.
I make bold to say that in De Bruyne, I see a player who is more focused, determined and is ready to play for his team than for himself. His improvement from last season has also been tremendous. This is a player that marks the ball, completely carries the responsibility of creating chances in his team and is always willing to pick a pass from any part of the field.
Some of his diagonal passes from the right hand side to the left for Leroy Sane has been absolutely incredible. His pass will 8 times out of 10 get to its designated destination.
Kevin De Bruyne right now tops the charts for most assists made, with 15 to his name and he still has more tackles than Nemanja Matic, who is a defensive midfielder for Manchester United.
Apart from the chances created and tackles made, Kevin also has scored 8 goals; three of them most notably against Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal who are also contenders for the Premier League crown. This is the go-to-man when the chips are down and his lone goal against Chelsea was evidence to that fact.
He has also dominated the big games; he gave a five-star performance against Liverpool with two assists, when they defeated them 5-0, he was outstanding against Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal including scoring great goals in those games.
This is something that Pogba has not been able to do. Apart from the two assists created by Pogba in the Arsenal game which he ended with a red card, he has been practically “missing” in every big fixture that Manchester United has been in, then he re-appeared in the Manchester derby, after such a long absence.
While De Bruyne goes about his game in an effective manner, Pogba prefers the showboating and will rather want to show an audacious skill, than make a simple pass that will help the team to score. This he did twice away to Burnley, where at both occasions he had two players who would have been presented with a one-be-one chance to goal had he passed, but he rather took the shot on both occasions and they were blocked by a defender.
Kevin De bruyne would have passed the ball on those occasions especially with the fact that Manchester United had a slender 1-0 lead against a Burnley side that are very tough to beat at the Turf Moor stadium.
This goes to show that one player is more focused on playing for his team while the other prefers to have the attention all to him. Some persons might argue the role of the gaffer in the mentality of these players but while we agree that he has a role to play, such decision making in split seconds is what separates a world class player.
There is also the small issue of temperament. Pogba gets easily frustrated and has a tendency to be drawn into a fight and easily lashes out when a teammate refuses to pass the ball but De Bruyne has exhibited nerves of steel so far. He is calculated and patient, lurking around just to pick that pass that will decide a game.
Paul Pogba is a great player and Manchester United has done better when he is playing. But this season, he has come second to an in-form, hungry and more effective De Bruyne whose nomination alongside Salah for the PFA Player of the Year everyone saw coming from a mile away.
Apart from the contributions of the managers of both Manchester teams, these two players have been the difference in points for their teams right now. On that note, it is no surprise at all that Manchester City won the league and finished above Manchester United.
Author: Rotimi “Papi the Great” Daramola
Rotimi Daramola aka Papi the Great is the owner of ForTheGoal.
A freelance sports writer who focuses on football, Rotimi is also a freelance writer, a copywriter and a football analyst who regularly appears on radio and television to talk football. You can follow him on twitter @papi_thegreat to keep up with his writings, engage him and also find out about how you can secure his writing services.