Pogba? Lukaku? Who is to blame for Man United woes?

Shoot the Pog There was never going to be any doubt about which side The Sun’s Neil Custis would take in any battle between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba. He labels the Frenchman’s criticism of Manchester United’s tactics ‘an astonishing attack’ on the back page and then throws in the word ‘incendiary’ in his match report. And how dare Pogba say anything after his performance (in which he set up United’s only goal with a wonderful flick) against Wolves?

As Custis writes:

‘Whether Pogba got it in the ear from the Old Trafford boss after the game and whether that prompted his words is not clear.’

Though it will not stop you speculating…

‘He was certainly at fault for the Wolves equaliser as he tried to be too clever in the centre of the pitch and lost possession.’

At fault? He did indeed lose the ball but Wolves scored a full 20 seconds later, after Luke Shaw had failed to prevent a cross, Victor Lindelof had failed to block said cross, Chris Smalling had lost his man for long enough for him to lay off the ball and neither Marouane Fellaini or Fred were close enough to Joao Moutinho, who finished beautifully from the edge of the box.

Apart from all that, it was definitely Pogba’s fault.


Defending the indefensible The back page of the Daily Mirror is more than a little naughty as they claim that ‘Pogba questions Mourinho tactics: We MUST attack, attack, attack, instead we defend…but I am a player, not the manager’.

Did Pogba mention anything at all about defending? Did he balls. But how else could the Mirror justify their ‘POGBORE’ headline?

They then double down on their website, with the top headline at 11.30am on Monday reading ‘Pogba continues feud with Mourinho by slamming Man United manager’s ‘over-negative’ tactics in costly draw to Wolves’.

Note the quote marks…around a phrase uttered by absolutely nobody.

Remember when integrity was a thing?


Old man shouting at clouds (part the first)| Paul Pogba scored a penalty last week against Young Boys of Berne; it was his third successful penalty of four this season. Now you might think that Jose Mourinho would be quite pleased with that record as United players missed three of six penalties last season, with Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku all failing from the spot.

Scoring three from four is a decidedly better record so Mourinho is presumably pretty happy with his new spot-kick man. Keep it up, fella.

Let’s hand over to the the Sunday People’s Neil Moxley:

‘It was with dismay that I read Jose Mourinho had given Paul Pogba the green light to continue with his ­penalty-taking routine.’

Sorry, what? You think Mourinho should stop Pogba taking penalties a certain way even though he is, you know, scoring them? Which is surely the whole bloody point.

‘For those who missed it, the France international took 26 steps and nine seconds before slotting home against Young Boys in midweek.

‘Twenty-six little steps over a nine-second period. Come on. Really?

‘However, it’s not so much the time that the £90million midfielder took, or the over-elaborate manner in which he approached kicking a ball 12 yards towards the goal.

‘It is more the precedent that he set.’

The ‘precedent’? You have already said that John Aldridge was the man to start the stutter trend. How can Pogba be ‘setting a precedent’ a full 30 years later?

This ridiculous rant (and it really is ridiculous) surely cannot be just because Pogba is a little on the flashy side, can it? It’s definitely not just a middle-aged man being annoyed by the youth? Because we all know that makes you sound a little silly…

‘Clearly, he likes being the centre of attention. His hair, the way he carries himself. This malarky over penalties is just an extension of that.’

Oh it really is. We are back to the bloody hair again.

‘His technique is mildly ­annoying, mainly because it’s really screaming, ‘Look at me!’’

Which of course should be more important to Mourinho than the fact that he actually scored.


Old man shouting at the clouds (part the second) Garth Crooks in his BBC team of the week: ‘In the end, one goal was enough to win the game against Everton, and when you score a superb goal like Alexandre Lacazette’s one for Arsenal, you are entitled to celebrate. What I don’t get is the appalling disco jig that follows. Why spoil such a wonderful finish with such a spine-chilling dance? What’s wrong with punching the air or running to the crowd?’

Remember when you used to be able to leave your front door open and kids stood up on the bus?


Ch-ch-ch-changes Writes Garth Crooks: ‘Leicester look like a team again after disappointing results against Liverpool and Bournemouth. Do Leicester fans have any idea what team their manager is going to play from one week to the next, because I don’t have a clue. I wonder if Claude Puel tinkers with the team just to keep it interesting.’

Or he made three changes – one of which was forced by suspension – because they lost their last game 4-2.

Oh and it worked as they won 3-1 on Saturday.

But yes, it definitely makes sense to use over half of your paragraph about James Maddison to have a pop at the boss.


Evans above Headline in The Sun: ‘MAD FER HIM.’

Opening line from Graeme Bryce in The Sun: ‘SIR ALEX FERGUSON is the latest member of James Maddison’s fan club, according to Jonny Evans.’

Actual quotes from Jonny Evans: “Sir Alex always young players to express themselves and entertain and it’s great James is one who can do that.”

And that automatically makes him a member of the fan club of every young player in football. This sh*t is easy.


Will he, won’t he? Headline on the Mirror Football homepage: ‘The best? Cristiano Ronaldo puts red card fiasco behind him to save Juve in timely reminder ahead of FIFA awards (but he WON’T be there in London).’

Oh. Why not? We click on the link…

‘Cristiano Ronaldo delivered a telling reminder of his greatness just before the Best FIFA Awards.

‘On Monday, Ronaldo will be suited and booted and on his way to the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.’

Or not. Take your pick.


Luk who’s to blame… Think Romelu Lukaku did rather well to score 27 goals for a pretty average Manchester United side last season?

Then you are a fool because Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News is here to tell you that is in fact a little bit sh*t…

‘Lukaku is 25 and has spent over seven years in England. He has not lifted silverware since he was with Anderlecht, never tallied 30 goals in a club campaign and, while he has more Premier League strikes than his idol Didier Drogba, there are two more relevant statistics; big-game goals and trophy count. He has not really emulated Drogba, never mind surpassed him.’

Pesky fact: Only four Manchester United players have ‘tallied 30 goals in a club campaign’ over the last 30 years; United winning nothing last season was probably not his fault.


Success addicts Elsewhere on the Manchester Evening News website, we read that ‘Manchester United’s Carabao Cup game against Derby County has taken on a whole new meaning’.

Has it? It feels like a bit of a reach but we have an open mind. Explain…

‘United need something, anything, to reignite an addiction to success that would offer greater hope of avoiding clumsy displays against lesser opposition, and triumph in English football’s second cup competition is Mourinho’s best bet for finding that spark.’

You do know they won it about 19 months ago, right? Oh for such a non-addictive personality…


Question of the week ‘Liverpool’s most popular boy’s name is James – are babies being named after Milner?’ – ESPN.

Probably not, no.


Recommended reading of the day Adam Bate on Alexis Sanchez

Barney Ronay on Chelsea’s mangled midfield


Thanks to today’s Mediawatch spotters Muntazir Fazel and Mike Randolph. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at theeditor@football365.com, putting Mediawatch in the subject field…


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