Gary Neville criticises ’embarrassing’ Man United penalty confusion

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Gary Neville described the apparent confusion over the missed penalty that cost Manchester United three points against Wolves as “embarrassing”.

Paul Pogba saw his second half spot-kick saved by Rui Patricio after an apparent debate with Marcus Rashford over who should step up to take it.

Former United defender Neville told Sky Sports: “They should decide in the dressing room who is the penalty taker – it’s embarrassing.

“This is a Manchester United penalty, this not a tombola, this is not under-fives on the school field.

“Rashford scored last week – take the penalty. But there wasn’t a leader out there. Something wasn’t right.”

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dismissed the penalty confusion, insisting both Pogba and Rashford are designated to take spot-kicks for the club.

Solskjaer said: “The two of them are designated the penalty shooters and it’s up to them there and then who feels ‘this is mine’.

“Sometimes players just feel they are confident enough to score – Paul has scored so many penalties for us and today Rui Patricio made a good save.

“The two of them have been very confident. I like players with confidence and the feeling that ‘I can do this’.”

Rashford added: “Paul wanted to take it – it’s that simple.

“Everybody can miss a penalty. He’s scored countless penalties for us so it’s normal to miss one.

“I took one last week so for me it’s no problem for him to take one this week. It’s unfortunate he didn’t score but it’s not on him, it’s as a team and we take it forward to the next game.”

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Blossoming Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford partnership continues as Man United held

Matt Jones 20/08/2019
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Paul Pogba missed a penalty as Manchester United had to settle for a point at Molineux in a 1-1 draw with Wolves.

United started with hunger and a snarl against a Wolves side that bit them hard last season, unbeaten in three encounters. They were bossing possession but hadn’t really tested Rui Patricio until they took the lead. A beautiful passage of play was topped off by Marcus Rashford sliding in Anthony Martial and he rifled a left-footed finish high past Patricio.

Wolves, timid in the opening 45, bit back in the second as they roared out of the traps. United were rattled and conceded a brilliant equaliser when Ruben Neves fired in a fierce shot off the underside of David De Gea’s crossbar after the Red Devils failed to clear a corner.

The game was an open spectacle from then on with both sides showing intent. United could have won it when Pogba was felled by Conor Coady inside the box, but his resultant penalty was brilliant kept out by Patricio.

Here’s how the United players rated.

MAN UNITED (4-2-3-1)

David De Gea 6: A bystander until Jimenez’s header unwittingly hit him when crashing off the post. Not so lucky minutes later as Neves’ brilliant shot crashed in off the underside of the bar.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka 7: Seems impossible to escape, making an incredible nine tackles. Continued fine start to United career. Even as Wolves pressed after the break he was sharp and alert and wasn’t afraid to venture forward either.

Victor Lindelof 6: Quiet and unassuming alongside Maguire, didn’t put a foot wrong. Passing crisp (92.8 per cent was best on the pitch).

Harry Maguire 6: Dived in on Jimenez early but afterwards commanding as United were comfortable. Had test with marauding Traore and increasingly confident hosts, but stuck to task well.

Luke Shaw 7: Still suspect defensively but settled and was a lively outlet down the left. Impressive pace and could have won it late but saw his shot collected by Patricio. Two key passes.

Paul Pogba 7: Shaky start with several errant passes but found his range and showed off repertoire. One searching ball to Rashford was resplendent. So hard to shake off the ball. Won but then failed to convert penalty.

Scott McTominay 6: His energy and hunger in midfield is why United fans love him. Much-needed in second half as Wolves came to life. Rolled sleeves up and got stuck in.

Daniel James 7: Earned first United start then earned a booking for diving. Kept head and looked a threat before fading, but United have a talent on their hands.

Jesse Lingard 7: Lively link up with Rashford and Martial. Bundle of energy as he chased and harried Wolves’ defenders and also tracked back diligently.

Marcus Rashford 7: Looked lively from the left, growing understanding with Martial continued to blossom. Needs a big season and has started with a bang. Go-to player when United look to counter.

Anthony Martial 7: Finally fulfilling his potential? Too early to say but a second goal in as many games has him brimming with confidence, which is dangerous. Rasping left foot drive was unstoppable.

SUBS

Juan Mata N/A: Brought on to impose calm but looked hurried in possession and made no telling contribution.

Andreas Pereira N/A: One lovely pass sprayed out to Wan-Bissaka, otherwise too little time to impress.

Mason Greenwood N/A: Brought on with little time to make an impact, more minutes for the 17-year-old.

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Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford must bear teeth again versus Wolves

Chris Bailey 18/08/2019
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A ruthless victory over Chelsea on opening weekend inflated the hopes of Manchester United fans – but Wolves are more than capable of bursting that bubble.

United head to Molineux on Monday to take on a Wanderers side who were desperately unlucky to be robbed of a fine win at Leicester, having been victims of the draconian new handball law.

Here, we look at three of the key issues ahead of the game.

Solskjaer’s slip-up

United have approached this season hoping to consign recent history to the dustbin, but they’ll do well to remember it was Wolves who first pulled the rug from under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after he had hit the ground running.

If United had beaten Wolves in early April they would have moved up to third in the league. Instead, a 2-1 defeat precipitated a wretched end to the season and the nadir of a humiliating last-day defeat to Cardiff City.

Aside from the obvious, chiefly £135 million worth of new defensive talent in Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, United supporters have been sold on the idea that the class of 2019/20 are fitter, stronger and faster after Solskjaer made stamina a priority in pre-season.

What killed the Red Devils at Molineux on their previous visit was flimsiness after an initial first-half surge, with Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku missing honey-coated chances before a relentless Wolves turned up the heat.

Scott McTominay scored the opener, but a wonderful Diogo Jota scored following a Fred error, Ashley Young was sent off in the second half for two bookable offences and a David De Gea clanger led to the Wolves winner.

If the Red Devils truly have bulked up both their physical and mental strength in between then and now, Nuno Espirito Santo’s men will only be too happy to increase their load.

Lightning attack to strike twice?

As touched upon, a significant part of their misery at Molineux was down to lacklustre finishing.

Conversely there was a lot of lustre at Old Trafford in that 4-0 victory over Chelsea, as Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial turned the precious few big chances on offer into goals.

Lukaku’s gone, to the merriment of much of the support, but he’s also taken a record of 28 goals over the last two Premier league seasons with him to Milan without being directly replaced. Neither Rashford nor Martial have scored more than 11 in a single Premier League season.

The pair’s ability to strike on the counter is crucial to United’s top-four hopes as, aside from the mercurial Paul Pogba, there still isn’t enough craft either through the middle or down the flanks to consistently prise open deep-lying defences.

Despite the defensive additions, don’t expect a clutch of clean sheets this season – there was still far too much green space between the Pogba/McTominay combo and their defence against Chelsea. But when United do win the ball back, Martial and Rashford must turn those transitions into personal triumphs.

Beware of JJ

Wolves have fleshed out their squad with several impressive signings, including two promising attackers in former AC Milan starlet Patrick Cutrone and Portuguese teenager Pedro Neto, as their impressive recruitment drive over the last few years continues apace.

The clear headline acts however remain Jota and Raul Jimenez, having combined to devastating effect up top in the second half of last season.

When Nuno decided to pair those two together for the first time in victory over Chelsea last December, it was the start of a partnership that produced 19 further Premier League goals before the season was out.

It’s a little and large link-up with a twist. Jimenez is far defter than any ‘big man’ has a right to be and his voracious work-rate is matched by Jota, who makes the spectacular look standard.

Jota remarked that the £80m United shelled out on Maguire is ‘hard to explain’. He certainly has the ability to make it look puzzling.

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