It was a contentious issue under previous boss Jose Mourinho, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted he could play star midfielder Paul Pogba in a deeper role – like the one he occupies for France – in order to help Manchester United dominate matches better.
The Norwegian celebrated his first game in permanent charge of the Red Devils with a 2-1 win over Watford on Saturday, but it was a poor performance from the hosts.
They were lucky to take all three points against the visiting Hornets who had every right to feel stung by defeat as they dominated possession (55/45 per cent) and total shots (13/3) and on target (7/2).
Solskjaer, appointed full-time manager days before the game, admitted it was a sloppy performance from his side. And even though predecessor Mourinho was often criticised for not giving Pogba enough licence to attack from midfield, Solskjaer suggested he might replicate the deep role he often plays for France in order to get him on the ball more often.
“Paul is important for us. We couldn’t keep the ball today – 50-50 per cent possession (45-55) at home, you’re a bit disappointed with that,” said the United icon.
“But Paul’s been away, played two games for France, he’s playing a bit deeper for them so that’s maybe something we have to think about, to get him more in the game.
“Paul can do both, he can attack and defend. Today, we had two strikers who did it for us. I thought Rashy (Marcus Rashford) was fantastic – he gave us the energy the others lacked.”
Pogba has thrived more than most at Old Trafford since Solskjaer took over from Mourinho in December, netting nine goals, but the Les Bleus star was largely anonymous in a game in that Watford largely dominated.
Solskjaer bristled at a suggestion United should be concerned by being unable to dominate the Hornets, pointing out that along with Wolves, he believes Javi Gracia’s side are among the best sides outside the Premier League top six.
“Watford are a good team,” he said. “They’re playing the semi-final of the FA Cup, they’ve got some very good players, play well on the counter-attack as well.
“I don’t think you’re giving them respect because they’re a good side. Along with Wolves, they’re the best two teams apart from the top six.
“Of course, you’d like to dominate, but we weren’t able to. We’ve set ourselves targets over the next eight games, now seven games. We came away with a win – that’s great. Everyone knows we can play better.”
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