It was the title of the show that really gave it away. It wasn’t just a documentary about Paul Pogba. It was called ‘The Pogmentary’. It sums up the career of a talented player that has left many divided. A player who is often accused of putting more focus on his new haircuts and his Instagram account than his playing career.
This insight into him as a man and footballer does nothing to dispel that image. Across five episodes, clocking in at around 2 hours and 30 minutes, fans will learn little more about the midfielder than they didn’t already know.
The documentary kicks off in the most Paul Pogba way possible – opening with a comic-book style cartoon of his early life as a footballer, narrated by the player himself, navigating viewers through the obstacles he has faced in his career before we are introduced to the most important people in his life.
Paul Pogba’s new documentary has lifted a lid on the player’s private life and his true feelings towards Manchester United amid a turbulent few years
His wife Zulay, his late agent Mino Raiola and lawyer Rafaela Pimenta all play a focal point in the narrative and adding layers to already familiar stories.
At times, the show feels like an angry retort to Pogba’s doubters during his turbulent time at Manchester United. Taking place over the course of a year from summer 2021, the Frenchman makes it crystal clear how intent he was on leaving Old Trafford and his frustrations with the hierarchy.
The stars of the show – aside from Pogba – are the late Raiola and Pimenta. Pogba is backed up from their accounts on every issue he has had in his career. Criticism of his performances, failed talks with United – from both his spells there – his injuries and his image.
His show called ‘The Pogmentary’ discusses his desire to leave United, struggles with injury and being in the spotlight
This felt like a great opportunity to end his United career on a high note and appease some fans who had given up on him in the build up to his acrimonious departure on a free transfer for a second time – but it’s a real misfire in that regard.
Pogba instead focuses on his family, his friends, the French national team and his many hobbies and passions. Pretty much everything other than United.
In fact, whenever United are mentioned, it’s usually a sly dig at the club and his unhappiness at Old Trafford – told through heated phone calls with Raiola. We are often reminded about how he has always ‘given his all’ for United, though there is a feeling throughout this that the club owes him something.
In one segment, while discussing United’s attempts to tie him down to a new contract, Pogba hits out at their ‘nothing’ offer – despite putting £300,000-a-week on the table.
‘They’re bluffing,’ he says while on a call with his agent. ‘How can you tell a player you absolutely want him and offer him nothing? Never seen that.
‘Playing is all that matters, winning too. My thought process is to show Manchester they shouldn’t have waited this long to offer a contract and to show other clubs that Manchester made a mistake in not offering a contract.
Pogba does not shy away from criticising United after leaving the club on a free transfer
His late agent Mino Raiola (L) and lawyer Rafaela Pimento (R) are the real stars of the show
Raiola and Pimenta insist throughout the whole show that United value Pogba highly and want him to stay, yet there is still a feeling of disdain for the club. The 29-year-old compares their bid to keep him to a man making a poor attempt to chase a woman he’s interested in.
‘When you really want a girl, you to do everything to get her,’ he says. ‘You don’t wait til she wants to leave, you come back to get here, that’s it.
‘Players have to feel important at their clubs and they have to feel important in their teams. If you don’t have that, it’s over.
‘I came back from injury, they didn’t help me, they didn’t care how I was feeling. So I had to go to the national team to get my confidence back.’
The French midfielder says United didn’t support him when injured or make him feel important
The documentary feels like a missed opportunity to end his United career on a high note
His battles with injury are also highlighted, as you would expect, but once again he opts to point the finger at United and criticise them for not giving him support – claiming he was forced to seek help from the France team to recover from a particular problem.
‘Players have to feel important in their clubs and they have to feel important in their teams. If you don’t have that, it’s over. I came back from injury, [United] didn’t help me, they didn’t care how I was feeling. So I had to go to the national team to get my confidence back.’
Man United vs France – that has been a constant theme of Pogba’s time at United and the tension is felt here. Pogba has long been accused of making more effort for Les Bleus than United and in his documentary, he spends around 10-15 minutes in total talking about his memories of playing for United.
The second and third episodes are almost entirely devoted to discussing his upbringing in France and playing for the national team at major tournaments – with episode three focused on his time at Euro 2020 with France.
Pogba insists the France team helped get his confidence back during the documentary – with Raiola claiming he is ‘the real Pogba’ when playing for Les Bleus
Dotted around that, the point is consistently hammered home that Pogba is unhappy an uncertain about his future as he slyly makes references to an exit – saying he ‘might not be here next season’, and even mentioning PSG’s club motto in talks with his closest friends.
He discusses a ‘disastrous’ meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson – who Raiola claims disrespected the player – that led to his initial free transfer to Juventus. He is more complimentary about his time in Italy than Manchester – admitting the Turin side is where he ‘became a man’.
Outside of talking football, we get a good glimpse of how Pogba winds down away from the pitch. His wife Zulay – a model and influencer who he met in 2016 – plays a big role here, illustrating their attempts to live a quiet life at home with their two children Labile Shakur, three, and Keeyan, one.
Zulay admits she is ‘not a sports person’ and didn’t even know who Pogba was when they met in Miami just after France lost the Euro 2016 final to Portugal.
His wife Zulay is a regular face throughout and reveals how she and Pogba try to live a quiet life
For all of Pogba’s critics, it is refreshing to see his strong bond with his family as he admits at the start of the series ‘Football is great but it will end one day and I’ll always be a dad’, adding: ‘I’m not saying I’m perfect but I’m trying to be the best father and husband I can be.’
At home, we see Pogba chatting on FaceTime with close friend Antoine Griezmann as well as family get-togethers with France team-mates Raphael Varane and childhood pal Blaise Matuidi.
Pogba also rides a horse with his kids, plays football with them in the garden and reiterates the importance of religion in his life.
But the longer the show goes on, the more it feels like a reality TV show than an engrossing, essential sports documentary.
‘Keeping Up With The Pogbas’ would have been a more fitting name, as he jets off to Miami with Zulay and his family, relaxes on a yacht, chats about his love of basketball, explains why he feels ‘American’ and is interested in living in the US when he retires.
But the doc begins to feel like a reality TV show – more like Keeping up with the Pogbas
Zulay says: ‘In America there’s a lot of showing [off] and Paul is this – he loves the attention. Paul is very American. He has his American side for sure.’
‘I like the American way of thinking,’ Pogba adds. ‘It’s more like me. You just live your life. I could consider living in America.’
Comments like this are why Pogba has struggled to wrestle away the tag of ‘Instagram footballer’ after being spotted playing basketball in the US throughout the years, but his lawyer Pimenta insists the UK simply does not embrace a sportsmen having other passions outside their designated sport.
‘Your coach [In England] is not very open to footballers doing other things,’ she explains in the documentary. ‘In America they’re more open to that. They actually expect you to do that – to be out and loud.’
Pogba cannot hide his love of basketball too and says he looked up to Michael Jordan and LeBron James
Indeed, Pogba – who keeps in touch with 76ers star Joel Embiid on the show – opens up on why basketball inspires him and name drops some legends of the sport as his role models rather than footballers.
‘Basketball is my second favourite sport,’ he adds. ‘I like everything about it. The intensity, the game, the style, the show, the look, the trash talk. I feel connected to that. I have role models. Michael Jordan and LeBron James. They’re great athletes and even off the court. They’re professional athletes and businessmen. Their commercials, their businesses, I like what they show off the court too.’
Pogba is quite the star away from sport himself. He signed a £35million deal with Adidas in 2016 and is never far from a billboard or photoshoot.
During a big chunk of episode five, Pogba relishes the opportunity to be involved in a promotional campaign with fashion designer Stella McCartney.
‘It’s just fun for me,’ he says. ‘I’m not shy in front of the camera. I’ve always liked movies and commercials. I always wanted to be an actor, it was my dream. But family comes first. There are other priorities.’
Pogba admits he enjoys being in front of a camera and wants to be an actor when he retires
The midfielder also reveals he hopes to live in the US one day and enjoys their way of life
‘He’s a performer,’ Pimenta chimes in. ‘He wants to do film or TV when he finishes his career.’
We know the value of Pogba transcends football, and it’s clear he has his eggs in numerous baskets with an eye on the future – but can a player who dreams of living in America and becoming an actor really led unconvinced fans and pundits that he had his eye totally on the ball at United?
Adopting his Hollywood lifestyle might have been no sticking point had he delivered consistently during his underwhelming six years back at his boyhood club.
But United fans are unlikely to be impressed to see him take up most of the documentary by discussing his personal ambitions and dreams rather than putting things right with the fanbase. While he had no obligation to, there was a missed chance to mend bridges and reflect positively on his time at the club.
Man United fans may feel they are better off without Pogba after watching this series after barely mentioning his memories of the club
The beginning of the final episode offers about 10 minutes of Pogba talking about his optimism for the 2021-22 season and how the club’s glamorous new signings could tempt him to stay. But then the spotlight is shone on his commercial value and a clip celebrating his son’s first birthday.
His long-term injury sustained on France duty in November ends any hope of us hearing about his eventual decision to leave the club the following year – with the final five minutes rounding things off on a toxic note to reflect on his feud with former boss Jose Mourinho.
When United finally announced Pogba would be leaving the club again, the club showed nothing but respect with a gushing 835-word statement reflecting on his achievements with the club – but his exit has left even his most ardent of supporters sitting on the fence about the legacy he leaves.
The argument of what Pogba adds to the squad amid his injuries, poor form and constant uncertainty has been falling flatter by the year. This documentary only serves to justify the feeling that the decision was best for all parties.