The Pogmentary: Paul Pogba documentary evades his Manchester United struggles to celebrate his brand


The most striking thing about The Pogmentary – except that The Pogumentary would surely be a better title – is that very little of it focuses on the highlights of Paul Pogba’s last six years at Manchester United. “What highlights?”, you might ask. Well, actually, there were a few of them along the way, and given this five-part documentary somehow runs for a whole two-and-a-half hours, they certainly had enough room to fit them in.

ut there is no mention of winning the EFL Cup and Europa League in his first season back, for example. There is a glimpse of his match-winning Manchester derby performance at the Etihad, but that is all. Even the excitement that surrounded his £89m move from Juventus in 2016 is largely glossed over, despite him joining for what, at the time, was a world record fee.

With his contract set to expire at the end of this month, there is no footage from Pogba’s sixth and final season at Old Trafford and barely any discussion about it either. In fact, it would be possible for those unfamiliar with his story to drop in and out of The Pogmentary and not realise that he is, at the time of its filming, a United player. And you imagine that is the point.

This is not a post-mortem of Pogba’s time at United. It is not even an attempt to put a positive spin on it. It is instead a portrait of a player who is ready to write a new chapter in his career and eagerly awaiting the opportunity to do so. Mostly filmed last summer, it is only being released now with Pogba on the verge of a return to Juventus, but it could also act as an alternative to a glossy brochure for any potential suitors.

Rather than Pogba’s troubles to meet expectations at Old Trafford, we largely see him as a loving husband, a committed father and a world-class, world-beating world champion with France. There is insight into his background, especially about his mother Yeo’s upbringing in Guinea and his own in Roissy-en-Brie. Pogba comes across as a compassionate, charismatic and driven young man who does everything to deserve his success.

That is certainly the opinion of his late agent Mino Raiola, who passed away in April. “Some people are difficult to love. Some people are easy to love. Paul is easy to love,” he declares minutes into the first episode. At which point you have to stop and remind yourself that this is the same player that was booed off the pitch by his own supporters in what will be his final appearances for United. Clearly, something went wrong somewhere.

Given that, perhaps it is not surprising The Pogmentary focuses on the man rather than the malicious debate around his Old Trafford career, which is one that generally divides along two lines: those who believe Pogba failed at United and those who believe United failed him. And while there is no shortage of people willing to argue the former, you can mount a compelling case for the latter, too.

After all, Pogba will leave this summer without anyone at United being entirely sure of his best role and position, which is a considerable oversight for a club’s record signing and a generational talent. He is not the only high-profile arrival at Old Trafford over the past decade who has failed to meet expectations. In his case and those of Alexis Sanchez, Angel di Maria, Romelu Lukaku and Falcao, there is one common denominator: the club that signed a top player and failed to get the best from them.

The Pogmentary does not set this case out, though, or at least not in detail. The reasons for Pogba’s United struggles are not fully investigated. Even his version of events is only lightly touched upon and would benefit from greater exploration. His fallout with Jose Mourinho is only addressed briefly at the very end. Pogba’s complaint that he did not receive enough support from the club during a spell out injured comes and goes so quickly that it is not clear which of several spells out injured he is referring to.

But again, the purpose of The Pogmentary is not to explain the last six years at United, it is to set Pogba apart from them. Hence why much more time is dedicated to presenting brand Pogba. “Pogba is something we built,” his lawyer Rafaela Pimenta says. “It’s a brand. It has emojis, it has Pogmojis, it has cups. He has shows, he has haircuts and we hope to entertain people with that.” This is something Pogba entirely buys into.

“You have to use your image,” he tells international team-mate Blaise Matuidi while visiting him, his family and his yacht in Florida. “The Americans get it. They got it long ago. Your image is your value. Use your image, use your value.” He cites Michael Jordan and LeBron James as “icons” for being both supreme athletes in their field and for their business acumen. James, of course, released his own documentary a decade ago when on the verge of switching franchises.

But this is not Pogba’s version of The Decision, or even as conclusive as his friend Antoine Griezmann’s La Decision. There is no big reveal of a move to Juventus. No definitive call on his future is made, except that he is ready for a change of scenery. “My thought process is to show Manchester [United] that they made a mistake in waiting to give me a contract,” he says in the penultimate scene. “And to show other clubs that Manchester had made a mistake in not offering me a contract.”

Except, United did offer a contract. They do so in this very documentary. Its most-discussed scene involves a FaceTime call between Pogba and Raiola, where his agent appears to be mid-massage. Pogba asks Raiola directly if United have made a new offer. “Yes,” Raiola says. “They absolutely want you to stay. For me, the offer does not reflect that.” Pogba accuses United of ‘bluffing’. “How can you tell a player you absolutely want him and offer him nothing?” It is not a scene that will endear him to United supporters any further.

And as much as The Pogmentary attempts not to dissect Pogba’s failed homecoming, Raiola comes close during the same FaceTime call. “We must try to make you feel as good as you feel with France,” he tells his client. “You’re different with them. You’re another Pogba with Manchester United. That’s weird. With France, you’re the real Pogba, the Pogba of Juventus, the Pogba everyone loves. With Manchester, there’s something blocking you.”

Raiola was nothing if not straight-talking and his summary of Pogba’s struggles at United is as close as The Pogmentary comes to a proper diagnosis. Otherwise, a documentary that could have provided answers to an enigmatic United career instead only raises more questions.

The Pogmentary launches exclusively on Amazon Prime Video worldwide on June 17.

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