Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is desperate to make up for lost time after his long injury absence, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the France midfielder impressed in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
Pogba, who had not played since Dec. 26 due to an ankle injury, came off the bench in the second half and won a penalty that Bruno Fernandes converted to equalise for United.
The 27-year-old Pogba has been criticised at times for a perceived lack of effort during his United career, but turned in an all-round performance in their first game back since the season was halted in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is great to see (Pogba) show his qualities and the contribution he made was big in us getting a penalty,” Solskjaer said. “He has had horrific injury-hit season and he is desperate to make up for lost time.
“Paul always has a point to prove to himself and to us. He expects a lot from himself and wants to be the best. He trains hard and loves football.”
Pogba completed 17 of 18 passes, made two blocks and recovered the ball four times in 34 minutes on the pitch in what was just his ninth appearance of the season.
“Paul did everything a midfielder should do, he tackled, won passes and showed some skills, so fantastic to have him back,” Solskjaer added.
“It has been great having him back training with us. On and off the pitch, he is such an enthusiastic and passionate boy. Everyone can see the quality he can provide.”
The draw kept United in fifth place, two points behind Chelsea, who have played a game less and travel to relegation-threatened Aston Villa on Sunday. Spurs stayed eighth in the table.
Keane furious with Maguire and David de Gea errors
Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane said he was 'sick to death' of David de Gea and the goalkeeper and Harry Maguire should hang their heads in shame for their performance in the 1-1 Premier League draw at Tottenham Hotspur.
During a halftime rant on Sky Sports, the Irishman said he was “flabbergasted” by errors from centre back Maguire and De Gea as Steven Bergwijn raced through to score the opener for Spurs.
The Dutchman easily dribbled past sluggish England defender Maguire and struck a shot which De Gea was unable to keep out.
Keane criticised Maguire but his strongest remarks concerned Spaniard De Gea.
“I’m shocked at that goal,” Keane said. “I’ve watched a lot of football over the years, but to give that away, I’m fuming.
“I can’t believe (defender Luke) Shaw heads the ball up and then runs forward, I’m staggered at Maguire, staggered that an international player can get done like this.
“I’m sick to death of this goalkeeper (De Gea). I would be fighting him at halftime. There is no getting away from that. I would be swinging punches at that guy.
“This is an established international goalkeeper. I’m flabbergasted. There’s got to be something going on at halftime. If I was (manager) Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer), make some changes... some of them are going through the motions at the moment.”
Eighth-placed Spurs, under ex-United manager Jose Mourinho, were looking to close the four-point gap on a United side in fifth place as the two teams battle for European football.
“Spurs have been okay, they’ve been compact,” added Keane. “But Maguire and De Gea, I wouldn’t let them on the bus after the match, let them get a taxi back to Manchester.
“These are established international players. I know we’ve got to analyse the game, but you do your job.
“We’re trying to get in the top four, not win leagues - just the top four! God forbid about winning trophies. It’s shocking. I am disgusted with it.
“Maguire, De Gea, you should hang your heads in shame. Representing Manchester United, letting people run past you.”
Former Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer believes De Gea’s position could be under threat.
“Over the past 18 months David de Gea has made a considerable amount of mistakes and that’s not expected from a keeper at that level,” Schwarzer told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“For a world-class keeper, the maximum number of mistakes leading to a goal shouldn’t be more than two a season and he’s clearly made more than that.”