Former Manchester United Gary Neville — now a top pundit with Sky Sports — hit the nail on the head. After witnessing Red Devils playmaker Paul Pogba miss a crucial spot kick in the 1-1 draw with Wolves in the Premier League last night, he stated that the miss was the difference between winning the game, and not. He isn’t wrong.
But the fact that it was the enigmatic Pogba took the penalty, after he had been fouled in the box, was also a point of discussion for the former Old Trafford favourite. He likened the discussion between the France ace and striker Marcus Rashford as to who should actually step up for the spot-kick as farcical. He likened it to game of chance when in fact there should already be a designated penalty taker within the ranks. He likened the farce to playing tombola.
He actually asked why there is a debate on who takes a penalty, suggesting something was “not right there”. He added:
“Initially I was fuming with Pogba. I’m holding back because he may be the penalty-taker here. It isn’t right. They should decide before they play. This is a Man United penalty. This is not tombola. This is not five a side.”
The game was finely poised at 1-1 during the second half when Pogba was upended by Conor Coady and, following a brief chat with Rashford — who scored a spot-kick in last week’s win over Chelsea — took control only to see his well-struck drive expertly thwarted by a diving Rui Patricio.
It proved a fateful miss. It had all looked as if things were going swimmingly for United. Anthony Martial handed United the advantage in the first half when he made the breakthrough — his 50th goal for the Theatre of Dreams giants — but the home side replied after the break with an absolutely magnificent effort from Ruben Neves from the edge of the box.
The draw meant that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side garnered only a single point following their convincing 4-0 drubbing of the Blues in the opening game of the top-flight campaign a week ago. But the Old Trafford boss wasn’t too down, citing the way United controlled large passages of the game as a bonus. He said:
“We dominated possession, we get the first goal and second half we know they’ll come out like a house on fire. They probably got the goal they deserve. I thought we took control again and could have won it.”
“First half was a mature performance. Second half was a bit sloppy. We are improving. We are a young team who will learn, we learned on the pitch in this game. We get a penalty that normally would get us another two points, sometimes the keeper makes a good save.”
United bid to get more points when they host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday with an expectant Old Trafford crowd no doubt hoping that if their heroes actually get another penalty, Pogba won’t take it!