Solskjaer defends Pogba's profligacy from the spot

Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio going the right way to save Paul Pogba's attempt from the spot, preserving his side's parity with Manchester United during their 1-1 draw. It was Wolves' second draw this season.
Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio going the right way to save Paul Pogba's attempt from the spot, preserving his side's parity with Manchester United during their 1-1 draw. It was Wolves' second draw this season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Paul Pogba pulled his jersey over his face when the final whistle blew, his latest spot-kick failure costing Manchester United two points and casting doubt over the wisdom of the team rotating their penalty-takers.

The midfielder's 68th-minute attempt was saved by Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio - his fourth miss in the past year - as United settled for a 1-1 Premier League draw at Molineux on Monday.

But United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to blame him after the Frenchman, who was racially abused on social media after the match, took over penalty duties from Marcus Rashford.

The striker had scored from the spot in the 4-0 victory over Chelsea last weekend.

"The two of them are designated penalty shooters and it's up to them there and then who feels 'this is mine'," Solskjaer said.

"Sometimes players just feel they are confident enough. Paul has scored many penalties for us and today Rui Patricio made a good save."

Former United defender Gary Neville, however, was not pleased and called on Solskjaer to resolve the issue before the next penalty.

  • Wolves are the first team to come from behind and avoid defeat in three consecutive Premier League games against Manchester United.

"They should decide in the dressing room who is the penalty taker - it's embarrassing," he said.

"This is a Manchester United penalty, this is not Under-5s on the school field. But there wasn't a leader. Something wasn't right."

The draw was a disappointing result for United after they dominated the opening period, with Solskjaer admitting his players lost their way after the interval.

United were dynamic and enterprising in the first half and they deserved the lead when Anthony Martial applied an emphatic finish to a sharp attacking move.

But Wolves' 55th-minute equaliser was equally merited, Ruben Neves plundering a spectacular reward from a set-piece routine for a second-half turnaround by Nuno Espirito Santo's team.

A draw against this impressive Wolves side is no disgrace. But winning would have done United a world of good given the way they floundered here last season, when they were ousted by Wolves from the FA Cup and then again in the Premier League a fortnight later.

At least they performed better this time. Solskjaer deployed all his new tools, starting all three of his summer recruits. Defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were obvious selections, but Daniel James' inclusion intrigued.

It was the young winger's first start since his arrival from Swansea but at just 21 and no Premier League experience, James' rawness showed at times.

"Second half was a bit sloppy. But we are a young team who will learn," Solskjaer said. "Wolves probably got the goal they deserve."

Yesterday, the club announced that it is working to identify the individuals who racially abused Pogba online.

"We will work to identify the few involved in these incidents and take the strongest course of action available to us. We also encourage social media companies to take action in these cases," it said.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'Solskjaer defends Pogba's profligacy from the spot'. Print Edition | Subscribe