The man who sank Manchester City with two goals and a man-of-the-match performance slipped away after another of those infuriatingly tepid performances.
It will remembered most for a silly booking when he blatantly handballed a cross from Alexis Sanchez towards goal in the first half. Pogba laughed off the yellow card from referee Paul Tierney, but he wasn’t smiling when his number went up in the 58th minute and he was replaced by Anthony Martial.
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was unimpressive against West Bromwich Albion
Pogba handled the ball inside the West Brom penalty area during the first half at Old Trafford
It came on the day that Jose Mourinho warned the club’s £89million record signing to be more consistent, not just in matches but also in training.
‘I told him after the City match that I don’t expect him to be man-of-the-match or to score two goals every week,’ said the United boss. ‘I told him to be consistent in a certain level.
‘That’s the challenge he has to put to himself, to keep a certain stability, not have the good match, the so-so match and the bad match. I think he has to keep that stability and with that will appear the special match like it happened against City.
‘He really has to try to go for that stability and the first thing is stability at training level. Stability in the working week and for the last few weeks, I’m really happy with him.’
Right on cue, the inconsistent Pogba produced another of those ‘so-so matches’ even though the Frenchman certainly wasn’t alone in that respect.
The France international appeared to be laughing as he was shown a yellow card for handball
At one point in the first half, he fired a hopelessly ambitious 40-yard effort high over the West Brom crossbar and into the East Stand.
It was no means the only time that Pogba gave away possession but, even so, it was a surprise to see him taken off so early in proceedings.
Mourinho clearly felt Pogba was one of the ‘masters of complication’ who tried to be too elaborate, and probably one of those who was ‘on the moon’ after the derby win as well. The United boss was also swayed by the yellow card that, he felt, could easily have turned into a red if Pogba stayed on the pitch much longer.
‘Paul had a yellow card and had a situation where he may have had another booking,’ said Mourinho. But he was complicated like all the rest of the players, one more touch always.’
It made little difference. United did not make a marked improvement and, in fact, conceded the goal that gave Albion a shock win and City the Premier League title.
But Pogba was not laughing when he was subbed off for Anthony Martial in the 58th minute
That was always going to happen at some point, even though few would have expected it to be courtesy of a West Brom win at Old Trafford.
For United, thoughts had already turned to next season and closing the sizeable gap on their neighbours.
Mourinho has been at pains to argue that United’s season would seem a lot better if it was not measured against City’s scintillating form, and he has a point.
They had, after all, won 71 points before a ball was kicked, more than in any of the five seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
The argument goes that if City weren’t really here, then United would be looking forward to winning another Premier League title. Problem is, City are here and they are champions in the most emphatic way.
The challenge for United is to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Mourinho has already said that it has been ‘impossible’ to keep pace with Pep Guardiola’s side. The concern is that if City improve again in the summer, United will be as helpless to stop them next season as they were this one.
Red Devils manager Jose Mourinho did not look happy as Pogba left the field on Sunday
And Pogba looked glum as he watched his side from the dugout as they lost 1-0 to the Baggies
Because, whatever bragging rights United may have won at the Etihad last week by beating City and delaying the title celebration, they still look some a long way short.
City’s convincing win over Wembley at Tottenham on Saturday night had dispelled any notion that a disappointing 10 days had exposed flaws in Guardiola’s side, and United’s performance at home to West Brom was as bad as it’s been under Mourinho.
The atmosphere inside Old Trafford was as flat as their team as United toiled to break down opponents still surely heading for the Championship.
That United had just six touches in the Albion penalty box in the first half tells its own story. They were unlucky not be awarded a penalty for Craig Dawson’s challenge on Ander Herrera, but that couldn’t paper over the cracks of a frustrating 45 minutes.
Ben Foster produced two magnificent saves to deny Romelu Lukaku in either half, but David De Gea had to make an equally good one from Jake Livermore before Jay Rodriguez stunned United with a close-range header in the 73rd minute.
Up in the stands, Avi Glazer was here to see United’s capitulation and Pogba’s latest humiliation. It will not make pleasant viewing for the American owners. Pogba, and his club, have much room for improvement.
Pogba covered his mouth with his hand and coat as he spoke to Martial after the final whistle
West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez scored the only goal of the game with a 73rd-minute header