Solskjaer explains Pogba substitution as Man Utd star admits: I had to come off

By Sports Desk April 15, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded it was not worth the risk for him to keep Paul Pogba on the field as Manchester United ran out comfortable winners over Granada en route to the Europa League semi-finals, a move which the midfielder agreed with.

United booked their place in the Europa League semis with a 2-0 win on Thursday, sealing a 4-0 aggregate victory over the Spanish side.

Edinson Cavani scored his 50th European goal – his first for United in Europe – before Jesus Vallejo headed into his own net in the closing stages as the Red Devils set up a showdown with Roma.

United have sealed their place in the semi-finals of a European competition for the 18th time in total, with Liverpool (19) the only English club to have managed more in that regard.

Pogba, however, was taken off at half-time during the contest. He teed up Cavani's opener with a clever flick, but received a yellow card shortly after and committed a total of three fouls, including one on Yangel Herrera which resulted in Granada's players crowding the referee demanding a second booking.

Solskjaer was left reeling after deciding not to take Fred off while the midfielder was on a booking in a Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in December, only for the Brazilian to then see red, and took no chances on this occasion.

He told BT Sport: "I think sometimes in a game, Paul wants to win so much, he went into a couple of tackles after his yellow card, I thought no, I don't want to risk that. Even though he played well.

"We missed three [players] today, the season's been hard enough as it is anyway."

For his part, Pogba had no issue with the reason for his substitution.

"Some tackles, a yellow card. I had to come off obviously," he told BT Sport. "The yellow card was unfortunate. It wasn't a yellow card for me but you have to accept it. We won the game, that's the most important thing.

"I know the foul just after it, I saw all the players trying to get me out. [The manager thought] It's better I come off before red card."

Solskjaer also suggested United created their own problems to an extent, saying: "[Granada] do give you a game, a physical game. You do have to defend.

"When you can't keep the ball as long as you should do, it's more difficult."

Serie A side Roma – boasting former United players Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chris Smalling – await in the final four after they overcome Ajax in the quarter-finals.

"I've not seen too much of Roma," Solskjaer continued. "They've had two good games against Ajax, they defend well, as Italian teams always do, experienced team, and we all know [Edin] Dzeko, so any ball in the box is a dangerous one.

"We're looking forward to it of course, we're in the semi-final, it feels like a proper European tie, Roma is a club with lots of tradition, history, but we've done well against Italian teams."

United reached the semi-finals last season, only to lose to Sevilla.

They have reached four semis previously under Solskjaer, twice in the EFL Cup, once in the FA Cup and once in the Europa League, though they are yet to win a trophy during the Norwegian's tenure.

"I don't think there's any," Solskjaer responded when asked if his team were scarred by previous defeats.

"You just go into every game wanting to win. We're going into them hoping to get to the final. If we can finish this season with a final and a trophy, great."

Related items

  • Gollini aiming to be the 'future of Tottenham' after arriving from Atalanta Gollini aiming to be the 'future of Tottenham' after arriving from Atalanta

    Tottenham have confirmed the signing of Pierluigi Gollini from Atalanta, with the goalkeeper initially joining on a season-long loan deal that includes an option to buy.

    Gollini has played 89 Serie A games across the past five seasons for Atalanta, having joined the Serie A club after a spell in English football at Aston Villa.

    The 26-year-old had previously spent time at Manchester United earlier in his career, too, but it was at Hellas Verona where he made his first-team debut during the 2014-15 season.

    After representing Italy at youth level, he made his debut for the Azzurri when coming on as a late substitute in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina in November 2019, though that remains his only international appearance to date.

    Now part of Nuno Espirito Santos' squad at Spurs, Gollini is looking forward to working alongside Hugo Lloris – but also plans to prove he is a long-term option to be the new number one.

  • Solskjaer signs new Man Utd contract Solskjaer signs new Man Utd contract

    Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signed a new three-year contract, the Premier League club announced on Saturday.

    Solskjaer's United finished as runners-up to Manchester City in the 2020-21 Premier League season and reached the final of the Europa League, losing 11-10 on penalties to Villarreal.

    United confirmed the Norwegian's new deal contained an option for a further year.

    Solskjaer said: "Everyone knows the feeling I have for this club, and I am delighted to have signed this new contract. It is an exciting time for Manchester United, we have built a squad with a good balance of youth and experienced players that are hungry for success.

    "I have a fantastic coaching team around me, and we are all ready to take that next step on our journey. Manchester United wants to be winning the biggest and best trophies and that's what we are all striving for. We have improved, both on and off the pitch, and that will continue over the coming seasons.

    "I can't wait to get out in front of a packed Old Trafford and get this campaign started."

    Former United striker Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho on a caretaker basis in December 2018, after the Portuguese boss was sacked, and was handed the job on a permanent basis three months later.

    He committed to a three-year deal at the time and has now signed up to stay at Old Trafford.

    There is change afoot at the club, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward due to leave at the end of the year.

    Woodward said Solskjaer had justified the club showing their faith in him with the extension.

    "Ole and his staff have worked tirelessly putting the foundations in place for long-term success on the pitch," Woodward said.

    "The results of that have become increasingly visible over the past two seasons and we are all looking forward to seeing this exciting team develop further in the years ahead.

    "What is especially pleasing is the way this progress has been achieved with a blend of young, homegrown talent and top-class recruits, playing attacking football in the best traditions of Manchester United. We are more confident than ever that, under Ole's leadership, we are heading in the right direction."

    Solskjaer has yet to win a trophy as boss of the Red Devils, or reach a major domestic cup final.

    However, United have finished third and second in the league in his first two full seasons at the helm, guaranteeing lucrative Champions League income.

    They finished five points ahead of third-placed Liverpool last term, losing just six of 38 domestic league games, albeit that was not enough to be competitive with City, who took the title by 12 points.

    Their 2020-21 win percentage of 55.3 in the Premier League was the second highest United have achieved in a season since Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013, beaten only by the 65.8 per cent they managed under Mourinho when finishing second in the 2017-18 campaign.

    The 73 league goals they scored was the highest United have tallied in the post-Ferguson era, with the team's 12 away wins in the top flight also the most they have mustered since the long-serving Scot stepped aside.

    In fact, United have not lost away from Old Trafford in the Premier League since going down 2-0 to Liverpool in January 2020 – that is a run of 26 matches.

  • BREAKING NEWS: Solskjaer signs new Man Utd contract BREAKING NEWS: Solskjaer signs new Man Utd contract

    Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signed a new three-year contract, the Premier League club announced on Saturday.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.