Dean Smith slams ‘pathetic’ call to award Manchester United a penalty after challenge on Paul Pogba

Dean Smith slams ‘pathetic’ decision to award Manchester United a penalty after a challenge on Paul Pogba – with Aston Villa boss insisting he is ‘fed up’ of discussing Red Devils spot-kicks

  • Smith’s Villa side took the lead in the first half through winger Bertrand Traore 
  • United equalised via Bruno Fernandes after Chris Kavanagh awarded a penalty
  • The visitors went on to win 3-1, but Smith was again unhappy with the officials 

Dean Smith hit out at the ‘pathetic decision’ to award Manchester United a penalty for Douglas Luiz’s challenge on Paul Pogba at Villa Park on Sunday.

The same two players were involved in an incident that led to Bruno Fernandes scoring United’s winner from the spot at Old Trafford in January.

Fernandes also converted a penalty at Villa Park last season when he was fouled by Ezri Konsa.

Aston Villa’s Dean Smith has slammed the ‘pathetic’ decision to award a penalty to Paul Pogba

The Manchester United midfielder was adjudged to have been caught by Villa's Douglas Luiz

The Manchester United midfielder was adjudged to have been caught by Villa’s Douglas Luiz

Bruno Fernandes scored the spot-kick to equalise, and United went on to beat Smith's side 3-1

Bruno Fernandes scored the spot-kick to equalise, and United went on to beat Smith’s side 3-1

Former referee Mark Clattenburg: My verdict

Come off it Dean, it’s a clear penalty! 

The penalty was an absolute gift for Manchester United from Douglas Luiz. Paul Pogba had his back to the Aston Villa goal and was going nowhere. 

Yet Luiz committed his challenge from behind, right in front of referee Chris Kavanagh, and didn’t get the ball.

You could see from the reaction of the Villa players that they knew Luiz had made a mistake.

Pogba had been clever in getting his body between his opponent and the ball. The Frenchman then felt the tackle come into the back of him.

He went down, Kavanagh pointed to the spot and United had been gifted a route back into the game. 

And the Portuguese scored a spot kick for the third time against Villa on Sunday to make it 1-1.

Villa manager Smith felt Pogba went down far too easily again to sway referee Chris Kavanagh’s decision, which was confirmed by VAR.

‘I’m fed up with talking about penalty decisions against Man United,’ said Smith. ‘Paul Pogba tripped himself up at Old Trafford and it’s another soft pen today. Douglas Luiz shouldn’t have planted a foot or given him the opportunity to go down.

‘But it looked a pathetic decision to me. Was that enough for him to go down? No. But he goes down, similar at Old Trafford, similar last season here, and I said that before the game.

‘Everybody’s confused that Raheem Sterling can go through last night (for Manchester City against Chelsea), have four of five touches on his backside, go down and not get a penalty.

‘Then there’s one touch and we go down and it’s a penalty (for Pogba). The whole of the football world is confused at the moment.’

Smith also criticised the decision to show Villa striker Ollie Watkins a second yellow card for diving after he went down under goalkeeper Dean Henderson’s challenge late in the game.

‘There’s no way the referee can tell me that he’s convinced he (Watkins) hasn’t been touched,’ added the Villa manager. 

And the frustrated Villa boss (above) blasted the officials after the match for their decision

And the frustrated Villa boss (above) blasted the officials after the match for their decision

‘I just don’t understand the decision-making of the officials at the moment and, more important, Stockley Park when they’re actually looking at it slowly. It looks like now he’s going to have to get hurt to win the penalty. 

‘He touches it past the goalkeeper. Is there enough contact for Ollie to go down? No. But like I said, there wasn’t enough for Pogba to go down.’

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he doesn’t expect Manchester City to slip up in the title race but was happy to see his team secure a Champions League place ahead of this week’s games against Leicester and Liverpool.

‘It’s a massive result,’ said Solskjaer. ‘It takes a little bit of the pressure away.’  

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Manchester United ‘have to put me on the bench then!’, jokes Paul Pogba

Manchester United ‘have to put me on the bench then!’, jokes Paul Pogba being told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer side average more points-per-game WITHOUT him this term – but star says the stat is a ‘good challenge’ to change

  • Man United average 1.9 points-per-game with Paul Pogba in the XI this season
  • When the 28-year-old doesn’t play, the Red Devils average 2.2 points per game
  • He couldn’t affect this stat on Sunday as their game vs Liverpool got postponed 

Paul Pogba has joked that Manchester United should drop him from the starting XI after it emerged that the team has performed better without him this season.

Despite his importance to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, the Red Devils surprisingly average more points-per-game when Pogba isn’t on the pitch.

According to the figures, the Old Trafford outfit average 2.2 points-per-game compared to 1.9 when Pogba plays.

Paul Pogba has joked Manchester United should bench him after being read some statistics

And that was put to him by French TV network Canal+, the 28-year-old took that in good jest – adding that he hopes he can improve the statistic when he starts.

‘So you have to put me on the bench then!’ he said light-heartedly.

‘I had not seen this statistic. If the team does better without me, I would totally understand that the coach would put me on the bench.

‘It’s a good challenge for me anyway. I hope it turns to the other side. I hope people will win more with me than without me.’

Pogba was unable to turn this tide on Sunday after United’s highly-anticipated clash against bitter rivals Liverpool was postponed.

United fans broke into the stadium and invaded the pitch in protest at club owners the Glazer family, while outside the ground bottles and barriers were thrown at police officers and horses.

The Red Devils were among 12 clubs that last month signed up for the breakaway European Super League, which collapsed within 48 hours due to huge, unrelenting pressure.

Those plans brought anger against the already despised Glazer family to a new level, with fans congregating at both Old Trafford and the Lowry, the team hotel in the city centre, to demand change ahead of Sunday’s clash with Liverpool.

Police said that by late afternoon around 200 protesters had gathered outside the Lowry and over 1,000 at the stadium.

There was an initial unspecified delay to the scheduled 1630 kick-off before confirmation came through from United at 1735 that the match had been postponed ‘due to safety and security considerations around the protest’.

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Paul Pogba ‘will leave Manchester United this summer if he doesn’t sign a new contract’

Paul Pogba ‘will leave Manchester United this summer if he doesn’t sign a new contract’ as Red Devils ‘prepare to offer Frenchman a £400,000-a-week deal to convince him to stay’ with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer optimistic of tying him down

  • Paul Pogba is more happy at Man United than ever before since his £89m move 
  • The France star’s deal at the club runs out in 2022 with Real Madrid interested
  • The Mirror claim United will open talks over a £400,000-a-week deal this month 
  • But they would also be prepared to sell if he fails to commit his long-term future

Manchester United are prepared to sell star midfielder Paul Pogba this summer should he fail to sign a new mega-deal at the club, according to reports.  

Pogba is happier than at any time since a world-record £89million move to rejoin the club from Juventus in 2016 and was outstanding in United’s 6-2 win against Roma in last week’s Europa League semi-final first leg.

The Frenchman’s current United contract runs out next year amid protracted speculation linking him with a move to Real Madrid.

Manchester United are prepared to sell  Paul Pogba if he does not agree a new deal

Pogba has been in stunning form and reports suggest United will open talks on a new £400,000-a-week deal

Pogba has been in stunning form and reports suggest United will open talks on a new £400,000-a-week deal

The Mirror however claim United will open talks with the 28-year-old regarding a fresh £400,000-a-week deal later this month, which would see him overtake David De Gea as the highest-paid player at the club.

But the same outlet and The Sun claim that should the France international refuse to commit his long-term future to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, the club will not hesitate to move him on, especially if super agent Mino Raiola’s demands become too taxing.

To help finance a move, both reports add United are planning to sell Spain goalkeeper De Gea – who currently earns £350,000 per week – to fund his current French team-mate’s new deal, with Dean Henderson then becoming the undisputed No 1. 

But United are aware that they are in a race against time to convince Pogba to stay and are keen for progress to be made on negotiations before he represents world champions France at the European Championships this summer. 

But they would be prepared to sell him too, especially if Mino Raiola's demands are too high

But they would be prepared to sell him too, especially if Mino Raiola’s demands are too high

Pogba has also been linked with a move to former club Juventus, and the list of high-profile suitors has made United reportedly desperate for talks with Raiola, as they are keen to avoid a repeat of nine years ago, when they lost him to the Italian giants on a free transfer.

The reports add while Old Trafford chiefs will now bow to whatever Raiola demands, they are aware their position will be weaker if the situation is not resolved by the start of the Euros, with his valuation dropping by the month in their bid to recoup the £89m fee they paid to re-sign him.  

And with both Juventus and Real Madrid in financial turmoil amid the coronavirus pandemic, that appears unlikely, albeit that United’s preference is to see Pogba commit the prime years of his career to the Old Trafford side.  

Pogba would overtake David De Gea if he signs the new deal as United's best paid player

Pogba would overtake David De Gea if he signs the new deal as United’s best paid player

United have reportedly begun searching the market potential replacements for Pogba  with Declan Rice, Wilfred Ndidi and Saul Niguez all featuring on the list.

But the longer the situation with Pogba remains unresolved, the longer they cannot put their plans to sign a possible replacement in the form of the West Ham, Leicester or Atletico Madrid star into action if the World Cup winner does decide to depart.

United boss Solskjaer however believes the club are winning the battle to convince Pogba to commit his future to the club, having already triggered a 12-month extension clause in his deal at the start of the season. 

‘If we can play like we did against Roma and go again against Liverpool and they can feel our progress this season, our chances are bigger to keep Paul and Edi (Edinson Cavani),’ said Solskjaer, whose second-place side face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Sunday, 13 points ahead of the reigning champions.

West Ham and England star Rice

Leicester midfielder Ndidi

United could look to Declan Rice (left) or Wilfried Ndidi (right) if Pogba does depart

‘You know of course I have worked with Paul for a few years. I had him when he was a reserve player as well and he knows my feelings about him that I want him to stay. It’s about creating a competitive environment than we can all thrive in, a competitive team challenging for trophies.

‘I have always said with Paul that I enjoy managing him, talking to him and challenging him because he is a winner. He wants to be better and that’s why he listens.

‘You can see he’s enjoying himself here as well. He has a smile on his face. I try to treat everyone with the same amount of respect but there are some players you have known since they were young lads and that’s the case with Paul. The longer you have known them the easier it is to have a bond with them.’

United boss Solskjaer however believes the club are winning the battle to convince Pogba

United boss Solskjaer however believes the club are winning the battle to convince Pogba

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Paul Pogba waited until FULL-TIME to break Ramadan fast in Manchester United’s Roma thrashing

Paul Pogba waited until FULL-TIME of Manchester United’s thumping win over Roma to break his Ramadan fast as Frenchman skipped food at half-time before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side put on a second-half masterclass

  • Paul Pogba was at his brilliant best as Manchester United thumped Roma 6-2
  • The midfielder scored and was instrumental in Bruno Fernandes’ opening goal
  • As a muslim, Pogba is taking part in Ramadan between April 12 to May 12 
  • The Frenchman could have broken the fast at half-time, but waited until the end 

Paul Pogba was virtually unplayable as Manchester United thumped Roma, scoring and putting-in a stunning performance on Thursday – all while fasting for Ramadan.

The French World Cup winner’s header put United 5-2 up in the Europa League semi-final first leg, making amends after conceding an early penalty. His brilliant technique to setup Bruno Fernandes’ opener was another sublime moment. 

During the holy month – running April 12 to May 12 – muslims like Pogba cannot eat or drink in daylight hours, meaning the midfielder began the game amid his fast. 

Paul Pogba was on fire as Manchester United crushed Roma in the Europa League semi-final

The Frenchman scored a header for United's fifth amid a super performance in the midfield

The Frenchman scored a header for United’s fifth amid a super performance in the midfield 

With the second-half set to be played after nightfall, he had the option to break the fast at the interval. Instead, he played-on and continued the masterclass in the second-half.  

‘Paul Pogba was fasting for Ramadan last night,’ BT Sport’s Reshmin Chowdhury revealed. 

‘At full-time, he quickly ate, then reappeared for media interviews, sipping an energy drink. All this with a massive smile. 

‘I asked how he manages fasting and playing. He looked up, pointed and said “Allah helps us.”   

Pogba managed the brilliant display despite fasting for Ramadan, only eating at half-time

Pogba managed the brilliant display despite fasting for Ramadan, only eating at half-time 

The Frenchman quickly ate post-match before emerging for interviews with plenty of energy

The Frenchman quickly ate post-match before emerging for interviews with plenty of energy

The performance confirmed Pogba’s claims that he can take Ramadan in his stride, having told told United’s website: ‘I’ve been doing it (Ramadan) for years.

‘I’m lucky. It’s not that hot, you know, so I can deal with it. It’s not that hard, and it’s for a good cause so it’s good.’  

United icon Rio Ferdinand replied, writing ‘love this’ after delighting in an overwhelming victory which all-but secured the Old Trafford side’s place in the Europa League final. 

United were 2-1 down at the break after Lorenzo Pellegrini converted the penalty Pogba conceded, before Edin Dzeko bagged another to overhaul Fernandes’ opener. 

Then United ran riot in the second-half, as Edinson Cavani bagged a double, Fernandes added a second, before Greenwood got in on the act following Pogba’s header.  

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Roma forced into THREE first-half substitutions in bizarre spate of injuries at Manchester United

Roma forced into THREE first-half substitutions in bizarre spate of injuries against Manchester United in Europa League semi-final… with goalkeeper Pau Lopez among those forced off for the visitors

  • Roma saw three of their players forced off in the first half at Old Trafford
  • Injuries ran through the Italian side in their clash against Manchester United
  • Jordan Veretout went off injured within five minutes of the match starting
  • Goalkeeper Pau Lopez followed before Leonardo Spinazzola also pulled up

Roma were forced into three first-half substitutions in a bizarre turn of misfortune in the first leg of their Europa League semi final against Manchester United.

Jordan Veretout lasted less than five minutes for the visitors at Old Trafford, before he pulled up as he tried to run away from Luke Shaw.

The Italian side’s goalkeeper Pau Lopez made a smart save to deny Paul Pogba just before the hour mark, but he went down straight after clutching his shoulder and was unable to continue.

Jordan Veretout was forced off the pitch against Manchester United inside five minutes

Goalkeeper Pau Lopez suffered a shoulder injury saving a Paul Pogba and could not continue

Goalkeeper Pau Lopez suffered a shoulder injury saving a Paul Pogba and could not continue

Lopez tried to swing his shoulder and loosen it up in an attempt to carry on, but 37-year-old backup goalkeeper Antonio Mirante was brought on for his first European appearance of the season.

Leonardo Spinazzola was involved in Roma’s second goal with a good run down the left wing, but he became the latest player to pull up and was forced off and replaced by Bruno Peres.

It all added up to leave the two sides playing five minutes of added time at the end of the first half.  

While teams are allowed five substitutions in the Europa League, they can only be made on three separate occasions, or at half-time.

As Roma did not make any changes during the interval, the visitors will not be able to make any further substitutions during the second period. 

Leonardo Spinazzola was forced off in a big blow to the visitors after he shone in the first half

Leonardo Spinazzola was forced off in a big blow to the visitors after he shone in the first half

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Manchester United: Paul Ince warns former club they face ‘a lot of issues’ next season

Paul Ince warns Manchester United they face ‘a lot of issues’ next season and tells Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he will ‘need to invest’ with the futures of Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and David De Gea uncertain

  • Paul Ince has predicted Manchester United will face a series of major problems 
  • The futures of several first-team stars at the club will be uncertain this summer 
  • Ince has urged his former side to splash the cash and bring in a new frontman 
  • Key players Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and David de Gea may all depart soon

Paul Ince has warned Manchester United that they are facing ‘a lot of issues’ next season unless they splash the cash in the summer.

United were forced to settle a point against old foes Leeds at the weekend but are still set to secure a Champions League spot for the next campaign.

The club have been handed a headache ahead of the transfer window opening, however, with several players set to exit – and Ince says that spending money will be crucial to avoid a drop in form.  

Paul Ince says Manchester United face a ‘lot of issues’ next season unless they spent heavily

‘They are not as far off as we thought two years ago,’ Ince told Sky Sports. ‘They are progressing gradually.

‘But on that performance they are a long way, they have been so inconsistent this season it is hard to judge.

‘They need money, they need a striker. It looks like [Edinson] Cavani is going to Boca Juniors. They are going have a lot of issues next season. 

Pundit Ince believes United need to invest with several first-team players poised for an exit

Pundit Ince believes United need to invest with several first-team players poised for an exit

‘David de Gea is on £300k a week plus as a number two [goalkeeper]. [Paul] Pogba might be going. [Donny] Van de Beek cost £40m and can’t even get a game.

‘They are going to need to invest. But to win titles you need consistent performances week in and week out. 

‘And we have not seen that this season from United even if they have got the results.’ 

Edinson Cavani looks set to leave Old Trafford after a season and return to South America

Paul Pogba will enter the final year of his contract this summer and his future is unclear

Edinson Cavani (L) is set to leave Old Trafford this summer and Paul Pogba (R) may also depart

Cavani, who has netted 10 goals in all competitions this season, is poised to exit Old Trafford after a one-year stay due to the veteran’s wish to return to South America.

Meanwhile, De Gea has fallen behind Dean Henderson in the pecking order between the sticks and faces a fight to salvage his future at the club. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may also face a fight to convince Paul Pogba to stay as the mercurial midfielder prepares to enter the final year of his deal.

David de Gea has dropped below Dean Henderson in the pecking order despite his hefty salary

David de Gea has dropped below Dean Henderson in the pecking order despite his hefty salary

Pogba and Cavani were both brought off the bench at Elland Road for the stalemate on Sunday and boss Solskjaer was left to rue his team’s missed opportunities.

‘Today we just didn’t have the moment, take [our chances] when we had them,’ Solskjaer said.

‘A draw is disappointing because we wanted to put pressure on [Manchester] City, but we couldn’t score.’

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