The Manchester United penalty debate: 'Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to be stronger'
Pogba and Rashford missed costly spot-kicks against Wolves and Palace
Last Updated: 25/08/19 11:23pm
After Marcus Rashford missed from the spot in the 2-1 home defeat against Crystal Palace, Gary Neville and Andy Dunn debated the soap opera around Manchester United's penalty takers.
United have been awarded penalties in all three of their Premier League fixtures so far.
There seemed no issue when Rashford tucked away his spot-kick to spark United to a 4-0 win over Chelsea on the opening weekend but, despite the England man being on the pitch with United locked 1-1 against Wolves last Monday, Paul Pogba took responsibility. However, his penalty was saved by Rui Patricio, the Frenchman's fourth miss from 12 yards since the start of 2018/19.
Solskjaer admitted after the game that he was happy to let Pogba and Rashford share penalty duties, allowing the pair to decide between them who felt most confident at the time.
The spotlight was put on what many viewed as an unsatisfactory situation yet again when United were given another penalty against Palace. This time Rashford stepped up and hit the inside of the post to make it two costly misses in six days for the Red Devils.
Although Daniel James found a late leveller, Patrick van Aanholt gave Palace a dramatic winner in injury time. Had United converted both, Solskjaer's men would be unbeaten; instead, the fluffed spot-kicks have cost them three points.
With Solskjaer coming under increasing criticism, this is what the experts have had to say:
Gary Neville (Sky Sports pundit and ex-United captain): Confusion creates uncertainty
[The penalty miss] is probably inevitable based on the situation created the other night. I don't have a problem with anyone missing a penalty, they're very difficult. and goalkeepers these days are so agile, they do all the homework - even we put in the penalty maps of wherever they've taken them.
But I think the confusion the other night creates uncertainty and that's the problem.
We didn't have a problem on Monday with Paul Pogba missing the penalty, it was the debate that took place before it actually happened and that's something that's never ideal on the football pitch. Today, Rashford has missed and obviously it's a bad moment.
The worst thing is not the penalty, it's the result - losing at home to Crystal Palace.
Andy Dunn (Chief Sports Writer, Daily Mirror): Manager should just pick a penalty taker
We should not overreact to the last two results, although these two penalty misses have played their part. Has it created an unnecessary soap opera around this penalty debate?
Yes. Should the player be affected by that? No, it is a penalty. I totally agree that it is a no-brainer the manager should just pick who is taking the penalty on the pitch.
However, there is still no excuse for missing a penalty. So I do not think the whole thing surrounding it should be affecting the players. Paul Pogba is a World Cup winner, Marcus Rashford has taken penalties for England.
Mark Ogden (Senior Football Writer, ESPN): Solskjaer should be stronger
I just think it's weak management by Solskjaer. Maybe it's a stretch too far to blame him for the two misses but Solskjaer should have said to Pogba, 'look, Rashford is our penalty taker. If he's not on the pitch then you take it but whenever he's on the pitch he takes the penalties', and that would have dealt with it.
But Ole's just kind of fudged it all week by saying 'I'm happy for it to continue'. I just wonder when Rashford steps up to take this penalty yesterday and he's aware of the fuss that's gone on all week about should he take it and an issue's been created around the penalty. And he missed.
For me, Solskjaer should have been stronger from the outset.