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Pogba's progress enthuses Ole

China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-01 09:46
Paul Pogba beats Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to the ball to head home Manchester United's second goal in a 4-1 English Premier League victory at Old Trafford on Sunday. JASON CAIRNDUFF/ACTION IMAGES/REUTERS

Two-goal haul and 'no showboating' buoys United boss

MANCHESTER, England - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer encouraged Paul Pogba to cut showboating from his game to recreate the "efficient" performance that saw the Frenchman score twice for the second straight game in a 4-1 thrashing of Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

A third consecutive victory since Solskjaer took charge until the end of the season kept United eight points adrift of Chelsea in the fight for a top-four finish.

Pogba has been key to all three wins, but this was arguably his best display as he also teed up Romelu Lukaku's fourth goal and struck the post late on to just miss out on a first career hat-trick.

"That is a top, top performance for a midfield player because it's all-round: work rate, dangerous in the box, no showboating. It's touch, pass, move," said Solskjaer.

"It's an efficient game and Paul knows he's at his best when it's an efficient game."

The change in mood around United in the 12 days since Jose Mourinho was fired is palpable, no more so in the performances of Pogba, who was discarded from the Portuguese's starting XI for his final three league games in charge.

"We are Manchester United and we need to be at the top of the league. It is just a reaction of all of the players and everyone is enjoying themselves," said Pogba.

"It is different, we still won games with the old manager but it is just a different style of playing, we are more offensive and we are creating more chances and that is how we want to play."

United has now scored 12 times in three games under the Norwegian, but Solskjaer insisted he has just tried to instill what he learned under Alex Ferguson during 11 seasons as a player at Old Trafford.

"This is how it was. I've just gone about the job as I experienced it as a player, and a coach," added Solskjaer.

"We want to go attacking. We've been at home two games and we have to entertain the fans. I love working with good players and good people."

Pogba played a part in four of United's five goals at Cardiff City last weekend to get Solskjaer off to a flying start before scoring twice against Huddersfield Town last Wednesday.

Solskjaer has spoken of his desire to see Pogba break into the box more regularly and he had the simplest of tasks to prod into an empty net after Marcus Rashford had bewildered the Bournemouth defense.

Nathan Ake and Diego Rico were beaten by Rashford's combination of fleet-footed dribbling and pace before his cross perfectly picked out Pogba's run.

Pogba then made it 2-0 with a bullet header from Ander Herrera's cross.

Unlike Pogba, Nemanja Matic was one of Mourinho's most trusted lieutenants but the Serbian has also epitomized the change in tack orchestrated by Solskjaer with the former Chelsea midfielder much more willing to look for a forward pass rather than a sideways one.

Matic began the move for United's third when he picked out Anthony Martial before the Frenchman's cross was turned home by Rashford.

For all the improvements of late, though, Solskjaer is still waiting for a first clean sheet since November as Ake beat Matic to power home a David Brooks cross.

Rashford should have added to his tally when put clean through by Pogba, but the England international didn't get enough elevation on his attempted chip over Cherries goalkeeper Asmir Begovic before making way for Lukaku 20 minutes from time.

The burly Belgian netted almost instantly when he squeezed past Begovic with his weaker right foot from another Pogba pass.

Pogba was denied a first ever hat-trick when his low strike from the edge of the box came off a post.

But United had to see out the final 11 minutes a man light after French defender Eric Bailly needlessly lunged in on Ryan Fraser to see a straight red card.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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