Manchester United boss Solskjaer explains Pogba benching and Henderson start for Istanbul Basaksehir clash

Paul Pogba Manchester United 2020-21
The France midfielder was left out of the line-up against the Turkish outfit in the Champions League on Wednesday, while the English keeper played

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has explained that squad rotation was behind his decision to bench Paul Pogba and start Dean Henderson for Wednesday's match against Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.

Solskjaer named Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic as his holding midfielders, lining up behind an attacking quartet of Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial. 

Pogba had started United's last two matches, a 5-0 win over RB Leipzig in the Champions League last week and Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in the Premier League. 

The 27-year-old did come off the bench in the 61st minute on Wednesday, replacing Van de Beek, but Man Utd would ultimately fall 2-1 to the Turkish outfit. 

Solskjaer said that his choice to start with the France international among the substitutes came down to his desire to give his midfielder a rest.

“It's just man or game management [having Paul Pogba on the bench]. We've got loads of games, and we've just rotated a few names," Solskjaer told BT Sport prior to the match.

”We want to go and win the game. We've had a great start in the group, and if we can go and win tonight that's a good response from the disappointment at the weekend.“

Solskjaer also opted to give second-choice goalkeeper Dean Henderson his first Champions League appearance, starting the England international ahead of David de Gea.

“Dean's been great in the games he's played, and, of course, with a game coming up very, very sharp on Saturday morning as well, that's why we've rotated a few positions, and Dean's deserved his start,” Solskjaer added.

De Gea will likely be back in goal when United resume Premier League play on Sunday when they face Everton at Goodison Park. 

United are in dire need of league points after a difficult start to the campaign that has them sitting in 15th place, albeit with one fewer game played than the teams around them.

That form has again seen Solskjaer's position at Old Trafford come into question, with Pogba also criticised for giving away the penalty that led to Arsenal's goal on Sunday. 

Article continues below

Speaking ahead of the match against Basaksehir, though, Solskjaer defended the France midfielder. 

"Paul knows with that exact incident he could have done better," the Norwegian said of the penalty against the Gunners. "He's held his hand up. That's how football is - it's high intensity, high tempo.

"Every player is frustrated, himself too, after a defeat. We need consistency from every one of our players. Paul has been going through a difficult period with injury last season, with coronavirus this season, so I think we have seen plenty of positives recently and hopefully it will continue."