Gary Neville says he was ‘fuming’ to see Paul Pogba step up to take Manchester United’s spot-kick against Wolves on Monday night, but thinks there is something seriously wrong with how penalties are being allocated at the club.
Pogba’s second-half penalty was saved by Rui Patricio, with United’s initial bright start at Molineux enough only for a 1-1 draw. Anthony Martial’s powerful finish was cancelled out by a stunning Ruben Neves strike, before Pogba’s spot-kick was saved.
In United’s previous game against Chelsea, a penalty had been scored by Marcus Rashford, who was also on the pitch against Wolves.
But with the pair having conversations before both penalties, Neville wasn’t sure who the designated taker is supposed to be, something he thinks is undermining United’s chances.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has since confirmed that the pair are both designated takers, and decide between themselves before each penalty.
“Before he even actually took the penalty, I was fuming,” Neville said on Sky Sports .
“The only reason I’m holding back is because four years ago when [Kevin] Mirallas took it off [Everton team-mate Leighton] Baines I called it a despicable act. It’s treachery in football terms, taking a penalty off your team-mate.
“However, we look back at the penalty from last week that Marcus Rashford took against Chelsea, and Paul Pogba walked up to Rashford and they had a long chat.
“I’m not sure if Rashford took the one off Pogba last week and Pogba should’ve taken the one from last week, looking at what we’ve seen from the Chelsea game. But they had a long chat again. I don’t like it. Why is there a debate on who takes a penalty? There should never be a debate. There’s a penalty taker.”
Pogba has attracted attention in the past after missing penalties with his unusual stuttered run-up, though in this case he took a more orthodox approach. Having won the penalty with a fine dribble, his kick was struck powerfully to the keeper’s right, but not far enough into the corner and Patricio made the save.
“Pogba’s missed four in the last 12 months,” Neville added. “You’d think that he’s had his chance now.
“Rashford scored last week - take the penalty! But there wasn’t a leader out on the pitch. There’s [Daniel] James there, there’s Martial, they couldn’t make a decision between them.
"This is a Manchester United penalty. This is not a tombola. This is not under-5s on the playground.
“Something wasn’t right. Something’s not right there. All I’m holding back on is that initially I was fuming at Pogba, it’s typical you, you’re selfish, why are you even thinking of taking a penalty off a player?
“Actually, last week’s one when I’m looking at it against Chelsea, it’s weird. Something’s not right.
"We haven’t just come on air tonight saying, ‘which piece of analysis are you doing? Are you doing this one or am I doing this one?’ We decide before we come on. They should decide, in the dressing room, who is the penalty taker. It’s embarrassing."