The start of last season was a disaster for Manchester United and Paul Pogba in particular.

Pogba’s first three games included being substituted off after an hour against Palace, missed a penalty against Brighton and a performance against Tottenham that could be considered their worst ever for the club.

There was a legitimate reason for Pogba’s bad start: he had tested positive for Covid in early September and erroneously fell back. Obviously he wasn’t fit.

So it was a pleasant surprise that Pogba started this season after just 45 minutes of friendly for United and then delivered one of his best performances ever – with a shared Premier League record of four assists in one game.

(Photo by Ash Donelon / Manchester United via Getty Images)

The key to Pogba’s performance was not just the offensive role he was played in, but his fitness as well.

The Athletic Report Manchester United coaching staff were pleasantly surprised by Pogba’s conditioning on his return.

The report said Pogba returned to United in his best pre-season shape, credits his fitness work with NBA team Miami Heat during his summer absence.

Pogba’s mindset is illuminating

Two summers ago, it appeared like United Pogba would have to move back into pre-season with questions raised as to whether he would make it to tour Australia and China by the morning of the flight.

This time around, Pogba has returned like a man on a mission, which shows his enthusiasm for United’s current project.

It is unclear whether this will lead to a contract extension, but the Frenchman’s approach to his fitness and top condition is representative of his current luck at the club. For him it is certainly more of an argument to expand it than against it.

Pogba was in great shape for France at Euro 2020 and clearly wants to continue playing at the same high level.

Whatever the future holds, in the here and now, Pogba’s newfound motivation is good news for Manchester United.

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