Monday 16 September 2019

'He doesn't deserve this' - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Paul Pogba is a leader at Man United after tough week

Paul Pogba missed a penalty against Wolves on Monday and subsequently received abuse online (Nick Potts/PA)
Paul Pogba missed a penalty against Wolves on Monday and subsequently received abuse online (Nick Potts/PA)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has offered up his most passionate defence yet of midfielder Paul Pogba, after a week when he was plunged into spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Pogba came under-fire after he missed a penalty in United's 1-1 draw at Wolves on Monday, as he appeared to assert his authority to take the spot kick ahead of Marcus Rashford.

That decision backfired on United's club record signing, who was then subjected to racist abuse on social media platforms in the days since the incident that brought a fresh round of criticism for Pogba from high-profile ex-players.

Twitter chiefs are set to meet with United officials as they consider their response to the racist attacks on Pogba and now Solskjaer has urged United fans to back the player who hinted he was keen to leave the club this summer.

"We can all see Paul was disappointed when he missed the penalty," said Solskjaer. "He doesn't deserve this.

"He gives his absolutely everything for the club every week. I know people expect him to do absolutely everything on a football pitch. He's got so many qualities. We're seeing different qualities from Paul this year compared to last season and he's a leader in the group. I expect the fans to be behind him."

"He expects a lot from himself as. We expect a lot from him but we know that we can't get Roy Keane, Veron, Scholes, Giggs and Cantona in one player. It's hard. He's a top, top player.

"We do expect a lot from our players and we have high hopes this season. Hopefully we can be consistent and challenge when we come to April and May, and Paul plays a big part in that."

Solskjaer confirmed earlier on Friday that Pogba would still be a contender to take penalties despite missing four spot kicks in the last year, as he stressed reports he had been taken off spot-kick duty were wide of the mark.

"I'm sure you're gonna see Paul Pogba score a pen for Manchester United again, definitely. We're practising pens still and Marcus and Paul are still on them," confirmed Solskjaer.

"It's not that I've left it to the players. We've nominated two and throughout the season you'll have games where they are not playing and it's good to know they're there and trusted to take penalties.

"It's not like anarchy and they can do whatever they want. Last year we had Marcus, Jesse and Paul, it's not left to them.

"Paul's fine, Paul's a strong character and... he's a strong character and it makes him stronge.

"When you speak to him he's fine and I just cannot believe we're still sitting here in 2019 talking about these instances.

"Social media is a place where people can hide behind fake identities, it's not down to me to change it but there are so many Ole Gunnar Solskjaers on Twitter. I know it's not me and we've got to do something about it and the authorities have got to do something about it, you feel sorry for them (the abusers), they must have problems themselves.

"We need to protect individuals and protect people. When there are death threats and racism, it's serious allegations, serious incidents, sometimes you get annoyed.

"What can we do about it as Manchester United, we're not gonna ban our players on social media we have to spread the good word instead. We can use it to spread good and have to stop those incidents."

Online Editors

The Throw-In: 'Jim Gavin has achieved what Mick O'Dwyer and Brian Cody couldn't do'

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport