Friday 22 March 2019

Call to arms by Pogba


Manchester United's Paul Pogba brushes off Southampton's Dusan Tadic. The midfielder wants more from United
Manchester United's Paul Pogba brushes off Southampton's Dusan Tadic. The midfielder wants more from United

Paul Pogba has called on Manchester United to ''wake up'' after a third consecutive draw saw them slip behind Chelsea in the Premier League table.

Draws against Leicester and Burnley either side of Christmas severely undermined United's status as challengers to Manchester City but Saturday's 0-0 shutout at home to Southampton means they are now sitting third in the standings.

The problems are racking up for manager Jose Mourinho, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic's knee problem keeping him out for a month and Romelu Lukaku taken off on a stretcher after a nasty clash of heads with Wesley Hoedt.

The English Football Association has also decided to take action against Ashley Young after footage emerged of the player apparently elbowing Dusan Tadic in the stomach during the Southampton match. Young has decided to accept his three-match ban.


Everton await today and Pogba has demanded better from his side, despite the short turnaround.

"We didn't lose but we have to wake up, bounce back and get back to winning,'' the Frenchman said.

"We drew again. Three draws, we have to win, something has to change and we have to change to win.

"It's only one day and then we have to play against Everton - that's football. Tomorrow's another day and we have to go out there and win.''

On the injury to 14-goal top-scorer Lukaku, Pogba said: "When we have Romelu, he makes it difficult for defenders and creates so much space as well. He's a big miss for us but we have the team to fill the gap of Romelu.''

Medical staff took every precaution in treating a potentially concerning head injury, placing the Belgian on a stretcher and fitting an oxygen mask. By full-time Mourinho was confident the worst-case scenarios had been ruled out and was instead predicting a two-match lay-off for the forward.

Pogba is not the only player concerned about United's current plight, Phil Jones admits the team must act quickly to avoid being dragged into a battle to stay in the Premier League's top four. With the Southampton result allowing Chelsea to move above them into second, Jones accepts United might soon be looking over their shoulders.

"For sure," the defender said. "It's obvious if you look at the table.

"But we have to concentrate on ourselves. It sounds so cliched but we need to look after each other and stick together, which is what we will do and keep going and keep battling.

"It's frustrating for us, but there's no point sitting here and sulking about it.

"It's difficult, we're going through a patch where we're picking up a few draws and not winning games like we should be but we'll get there.

"In another few weeks' time we might be standing here saying we're in a very controlled position again but we've got to make sure we do that rather than just say it."

United had a strong penalty appeal rejected and a goal disallowed against Saints but their performance was still a laboured one and they spurned some good chances.

Jones feels United are due more luck but accepts they need to be more clinical.

He said: "I don't like using the word unlucky because you create your own luck but there are times in the games where you're thinking... like the one against Burnley where it's hit the keeper in the face, spun on to the top of the bar and spun down.

"There you go, it's one of those things but we have got to do better. We have got to win games."

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