Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League on Sunday, beating a talented Everton team 2-1 at Old Trafford.
For the most part, the game itself was comfortable. Jose Mourinho’s team were the dominant side, largely due to the control they had in the midfield from Paul Pogba, Fred and Nemanja Matic.
Our talented Frenchman opened the scoring thanks to a rather lucky penalty, but once again, his approach to the spot-kick left plenty to be desired. I counted no fewer than 23 steps before he struck the ball in the first-half of the encounter against Everton, and Pogba was fortunate that the ball bounced straight back to him – otherwise he would have been left with egg on his face.
Following the game, Jose Mourinho was asked about the penalty. While the manager was pleased at Pogba’s enthusiasm, he did question whether the approach will have to change.
“The thing I like is the desire to take it,” said Mourinho, per the Daily Telegraph. “I like the fact he wants to take the penalty but maybe he needs to change his approach.”
“Let me choose the words carefully because I don’t want to be punished. I don’t like Mickey Mouses, fragile, afraid to go, those who say I don’t take penalties.
“I like the player that says “I want to take it”. But Paul, can he improve? I think he can. The goalkeepers know his running up style, they don’t move and they are waiting for his decision, so he has to learn from that. But, for me, the most important thing is he wants to go again.
“Maybe he has to change his approach, but I don’t want him to change his mental approach. The keeper is also a good penalty saver, so let’s give credit to him. He showed that in the World Cup.”
The manager is right. Sitting in the stadium, at the end from which the penalty was taken from, there were groans and moans from the Old Trafford crowd. The showmanship of such a long run up just isn’t necessary, particularly when he speeds up at the end anyway.
Does it make him a better penalty taker? I highly doubt it. Mourinho is right when he says that Pickford is a good shot-stopper from twelve yards, but the whole run-up thing is just laughable. Just step up, take it normally and get on with the game. I feel as though Pogba is trying to make it all about him…