I cannot understand how a manager can send two players, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, on to a pitch with a mind-set of one having to stand down as penalty taker in the heat of the moment.
Solskjaer carries the can for this one.
It makes no sense. A penalty taker has to be confident 100 per cent and you have to know in your mind, if you get one, that you are ready and mentally prepared. You are sending two players out who mentally don’t know who will actually take it.
I wonder whether this illustrates something about the power dynamic between the Manchester United manager, and his star midfielder.
Is Solskjaer strong enough to tell Pogba, who has now missed four spot kicks in the last 12 months, he is off penalty duties?
Marcus Rashford has converted his last two kicks.
Is Solskjaer tip-toeing around a sensitive issue, at a sensitive time in the European transfer window, to keep Pogba happy and at the club, rather than seek confrontation?
Solskjaer needs to be tough enough to enforce some clarity on the penalty taking situation, and not be influenced by a powerful player wanting to indulge himself.
I was surprised. It is a strange scenario and no one you should be putting your players in. You should make a decision, who is your penalty taker, and you go with it.
It is a mistake from the manager’s point of view.
However it has become another bit of Paul Pogba bashing, and that is not right. Especially the racist abuse he has got since.
I respect anyone who takes a penalty. They put themselves on the line. They are in a pressurised situation. Pogba is an even more pressurised situation because of the person he is. Some people want Paul Pogba to fail. It is just the way it is, a natural instinct. They don’t like him to be successful.
I have never been around indecision like that. In my teams we had Alan Shearer or Robbie Keane as the main penalty taker. We always had a penalty taker.
For there to be two people having a discussion about who takes a penalty moments before they have to shoulder that pressure is a distraction that can lead to a miss.
In every other set piece, coaches have clarity. There is a dossier in the dug out saying who stands where, who marks who, who is taking responsibility in every area. Then you are telling me at Manchester United, there is no firm plan for the most decisive set piece of them all?!
No plan, which means the clubs two best penalty takers have to joust between themselves about who gets the kick. And the resulting miss means they don’t go top.
I can imagine there were players on that pitch thinking: ‘Marcus, get that ball and keep doing what you’ve been doing for us’.
He scored last week. If I was on the pitch I’d be saying: ‘Rash, get the ball, take the penalty’.
At Man City there was a situation with Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling when they beat West Ham 5-0. I liked that Aguero put his foot down in the 86th minute and was able to say to Sterling: ‘You may be on a hat-trick, but I am the penalty taker at this club’.
If it was last minute in a Champions’ League final to win, we’ll see who steps up to take it then! I am pretty sure it would be Aguero stepping up.
Shearer was the best taker I’ve played with. He would not have been questioned. He could have missed four on the run and he’d have taken the next penalty. You have confidence in your penalty taker until the point comes when he’s missed too many.
We had a situation at Spurs when Defoe had missed a few more than he should have. He was like: ‘alright, let someone else take this one’.
This situation is not Pogba’s fault and not Rashford’s fault. It is Solskjaer’s fault.
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