The Man Utd midfielder’s sloppy moment in the Europa League semi-final has forced some tongue-in-cheek introspection
Paul Pogba has acknowledged his tackling form needs work after an attempt to make a sliding block in the Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday gifted Roma a penalty.
The Manchester United midfielder forgot to keep his hands down as he went in for the first-half challenge, and the cross he was trying to stop struck his palm. However, he went on to score in an eventual 6-2 thrashing and was able to joke about the incident after the game.
After entering half-time down a goal, the Red Devils hit five past Roma over the final 45 minutes to close in on a trip to the competition’s final in Poland.
What has been said?
“Just don’t tackle,” Pogba told BT Sport of the conceded penalty. “I don’t know how to tackle – why should I tackle? That’s my problem! I try to tackle and be the English guy. I need to practise more. I need to practise to tackle without arms. It’s unlucky. I’ve been unlucky a lot this season with penalties.
Roma equalise straight away! 🏃♂️💨
— Goal (@goal) April 29, 2021
“In the first half we had two mistakes and conceded two goals. We were a bit all over the place after the second goal.
“At half-time we said let’s do the right things, let’s do the right things, simple things. The manager spoke. We were all motivated to go and score as many goals as possible.
“The result is positive but it’s not finished. We will have to stay focused and play a nice game with the same mentality.”
The bigger picture
Manchester United are likely to finish in a Champions League place in the Premier League, meaning a European trophy this campaign would not be needed to reach that stage in 2021-22.
However, the Europa League still represents a significant piece of silverware and would be a tangible accomplishment for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to take from a sometimes turbulent campaign.
Pogba’s continued involvement, handball notwithstanding, is also good news for the Red Devils, who earlier this season appeared destined for divorce with the playmaker.
He has been noticeably upbeat in recent months as the squad has taken control of second place in the Premier League and advanced to the brink of the Europa League final.