Michael Owen says Pogba is the problem in midfield, criticises Rooney's decision to relinquish penalty duties
Prior to Manchester United’s game against Fenerbahce in the Europa League on Thursday, former Liverpool and Manchester United striker Michael Owen laid the blame square on world-record signing Paul Pogba, for United’s woes in central midfield.
The former England striker, along with another former Manchester United player, Owen Hargreaves, were part of BT Sport’s coverage of the game, where Owen said that United’s other midfielders have been playing well but have been blamed for Pogba’s average performances.
Feel sorry for the midfield players, says Michael Owen
“I feel sorry for some of the midfield players because some of them are not playing bad, there are players that are playing well,” said Owen and continued, “The problem is, Pogba is not playing as well as he should be, so everyone else is sort of taking the brunt of it.”
Owen further went on to say that Pogba is at fault for the United midfield not functioning properly and he had sympathy for Pogba’s midfield partners, “I almost feel sorry for some of those midfield players because he is the problem. He is a world-class player and they have to get the best out of him because he is so good, but it’s almost other people who are suffering – it doesn’t matter how they play personally, it’s about how Pogba plays in many ways.”
The former striker, though, had to eat humble pie as Pogba scored two goals in the game in United’s 4-1 victory over Fenerbahce. The French midfielder scored his first from the penalty spot after Mata was tripped, and the second, a thunderbolt of a shot from outside the box.
Pogba’s French compatriot Anthony Martial, scored another penalty in the first half, while Jesse Lingard scored a scorcher from outside the box to complete a comprehensive victory.
Owen shocked with Rooney’s decision to allow Pogba to take penalties
Owen was equally not impressed with Rooney’s decision to leave it to Pogba to take United’s first penalty. “Wayne is struggling for confidence. He’s the goal-scorer. If he’d scored two penalties tonight, he’d be ahead of Ruud van Nistelrooy in the European goal-scoring charts and one behind Sir Bobby Charlton in the the all-time United goal-scorers’ list,” said a surprised Owen.
He continued and hinted that Rooney might no longer have the fire, “I just remember when he was younger he was nasty and he wanted to score he was desperate. If he gets a penalty he should be all over it and I can't believe he's handed it over.”
This is not the first time that the former Liverpool striker has been critical of Pogba. After United’s draw with Stoke City earlier this month, Owen criticised the Frenchman’s performance, “When you look at goal kicks, Pogba actually stays in the central midfield position but as soon as the ball comes into play, he just starts drifting into areas forward.It makes me wonder, is it what he’s doing or is it what he’s being told to do?”
Twitter didn’t take kindly to Owen’s assessment of Pogba and showed their displeasure about the pundit’s analysis: