Manchester United only just stayed top of Group F thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s brace against Atalanta, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made another strong statement to Paul Pogba
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a strong statement to Paul Pogba, as he hauled the struggling star off despite Manchester United trailing Atalanta in their crucial Champions League match.
Cristiano Ronaldo came to the rescue for United once again as he pegged the Italians back on two occasions, with his second goal coming in the 91st minute to seal a dramatic 2-2 draw.
At the time, the Reds were trailing to goals from Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata – and they were facing the prospect of dropping down to third in their group.
However, with United needing a goal, Solskjaer hauled Pogba off in the 69th minute and replaced him with Nemanja Matic.
It was a major statement from the Norwegian boss, who even chose to leave defensive midfielder Scott McTominay on the pitch, despite the Scottish midfielder being on a yellow card.
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And it was a disappointing moment for former United stars Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes who both commanded a disciplined performance from the United midfield general.
Indeed, the duo demanded before the game that Pogba needed to be disciplined and earn Solskjaer’s trust.
“We want to see a disciplined performance from Pogba,” Ferdinand said on BT Sports.
“He’s got huge talent and Seeing and watching the performance at the weekend there’s pressure so he will have to play the role he’s been given and earn that trust again.
“For him to miss Spurs away at the weekend I’m sure that dented his confidence.”
Pogba’s last appearance for the Reds came in their humiliating 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool.
He was introduced by Solskjaer in the second half against Jurgen Klopp’s side, but he was very quickly heading down the Old Trafford tunnel after being shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge..
Solskjaer elected to deploy the Frenchman in Italy in United’s central midfield, however, the decision did not seem to help either party.
And Scholes also emphasised the importance of Pogba putting in a responsible display at the heart of United’s midfield, before the contest
“It’s a big game for Paul he needs to be disciplined,” said the iconic United midfielder.
“ Juventus played three at the back when he was there, giving him that security where he can go and play.”
Pogba’s started the season in exceptional fashion, as he contributed seven assists in his first four Premier League matches.
Four of those came in the first match of the campaign, where United blew Leeds United away 5-1 at Old Trafford.
Unfortunately, the clinical passing and creativity, not just in the Frenchman but in most of United’s squads, has been lacking in recent weeks.
Ronaldo’s late night heroics only just saved United from their sixth defeat in eleven matches, as well as their second loss of the Champions League campaign.
It very well may have also dragged Solskjaer off the thin ice he found himself on after the Liverpool humiliation.
Last season, United failed to qualify from a Champions League group containing RB Leipzig, Paris Saint-Germain, and Istanbul Basaksehir.
And they have not really convinced in Europe this season either, as all their points have come thanks to last minute goals from goals from Ronaldo.
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