France coach Didier Deschamps needs exciting young midfield talent Paul Pogba to learn to tame his aggression after coming perilously close to a red card in their FIFA World Cup™ opener against Honduras.
Pogba, just 20 and already a star with Italian champions Juventus, lashed out petulantly when he tussled with Wilson Palacios early in the 3-0 win on Sunday. He then won a penalty after another clash with the Honduran midfielder, who was red-carded before Karim Benzema buried the penalty.
"There is such a buzz about him and there's always a risk with a player who is being talked up as a star of the World Cup," said Deschamps. "It's not an easy environment to manage even if he is at a big club. He is still young and he has steps to take."
Deschamps said he was always on hand to guide Pogba, a world champion at the under-20 level, through the minefield of being a marked man. "I am not here to point fingers but I am here to help and ensure that he is handled well. But he is a young player and a game style which means he takes a lot of hits. He doesn't have to lose what gives him his strengths. He plays in a role where there are a lot of tackles but the high level demands total control."
Meanwhile, Deschamps hit back at criticisms that the France squad are not making themselves accessible enough to fans during their stay at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. "Other teams have closer contact with their supporters, teams like Germany," said a journalist. "After the anxiety of the first match could France be more sympathetic, more welcoming, especially with children, at training for example?"
Deschamps responded with surprise: "The contact with people is there, there have been opening training sessions, two I believe, and there are a lot of people in the stadium (10,000 the first time, 7,000 on the second occasion). I don't think that we are isolated. For the time being, we need peace and quiet. We stay in contact with children, with the adults, with the senior citizens, with all the people who wanted to come and see us."