Friday 17 January 2020

Solskjaer denies penalty rift and blasts keyboard warriors


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Paul Pogba to score more penalties for Manchester United.

The French midfielder was criticised for taking a spot-kick in Monday's draw with Wolves ahead of Marcus Rashford, and then seeing it saved by Rui Patricio.

Pogba has now missed four of his 11 attempts in the Premier League, but Solskjaer said: "I'm sure you're going to see Paul Pogba score a penalty for Man United again. Definitely.

"Let's see when we get the next one. We're practising penalties still and Marcus and Paul are still on them."

Television pundit and former United player Gary Neville branded the situation "embarrassing" but Solskjaer insisted it had not been Pogba taking the ball from Rashford, with the two men sharing penalty duties.

Solskjaer also defended his own authority, saying: "It's not that I've left it to the players to sort out, we've nominated two. It's not like there's anarchy and do whatever you want. Last season we had Marcus, Jesse (Lingard), Paul who all scored penalties, probably more as well.

"(There's) absolutely no fighting. We're disappointed that we didn't win the game but the talk is always more difficult when you don't get a result."

Pogba was subjected to racist abuse on social media after the game, and representatives of Twitter are planning to meet officials at United to discuss the situation.

"Paul's fine," added Solskjaer. "Paul's a strong character and it makes him stronger. I just cannot believe we still sit here in 2019 talking about these instances.

"Social media is a place where, as Harry (Maguire) said, people can hide behind fake identities. I don't think it's down to me to change it but we've got to do something and the authorities have got to do something about these ones that spread this hate.

"You just feel sorry for them really. They must have problems themselves when they have to do this.

"We're not going to ban our players on social media. We have to spread the good word because it's so much good we can use social media for but we have to stop those incidents, definitely."

Solskjaer, meanwhile, declined to respond to Romelu Lukaku's claims in an interview on NBA player Josh Hart's LightHarted podcast that he did not feel protected by the club and was made a scapegoat when things were not going well.

"I'm not going to dive into that one," said the United boss of the former Red Devils' striker. "I think that interview was made before the summer when he was a Man United player so I think I'd rather not."

Lukaku is now an Inter Milan player and he could yet be joined by striker Alexis Sanchez, who is out of the first-team picture at Old Trafford.

The Chilean played in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Sheffield United this week, and Solskjaer said: "There's still talks with some clubs but he played in that game and he played well."

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