Pogba offers something no-one else can but Rashford, Ronaldo & Fernandes must rediscover cutting edge


MANCHESTER UNITED supporters may have been denied a half-time pint but the return of Paul Pogba was more than enough to whet the whistle.

That was despite a night of missed chances leading to Middlesbrough dumping them out of the FA Cup on penalties.


Paul Pogba returned to action for Manchester United against Middlesbrough in the FA CupCredit: Reuters
Cristiano Ronaldo and United's forwards must improve their finishing to get in the top four


Cristiano Ronaldo and United’s forwards must improve their finishing to get in the top fourCredit: AFP

Pogba shone on his big return to action – but his blunt team-mates had no bite as a host of missed chances proved costly.

The midfielder had not played since the 2-2 Champions League draw away to Atalanta on November 2.

He then picked up a thigh injury the following week while training with the French squad.

Pogba was back in the starting XI for the first time since then for the defeat to Boro and looked to be instantly back on form.

United’s record £89million transfer signing still looks set to walk away for nothing this summer when his contract expires.

But boss Ralf Rangnick and the Stretford End will not give one jot if he keeps producing displays like this to help them soften that financial blow by qualifying for the Champions League – if the forwards rediscover their shooting boots!


After such a lengthy absence, it took him no time at all to get his side going with one and two-touch football.

Pogba’s trickery led to an early penalty, amazingly missed by Cristiano Ronaldo, but it was his defensive abilities that equally stood out.

He stopped Boro speedster Isiah jones’ early surge forward and then won the ball back to start the move that led to Jadon Sancho’s opener.

Having a strike from distance himself, he then showed he is also willing to do the dirty stuff by taking a booking for the team when Marcus Tavernier was breaking clear.

That was just in the first half – which ended with the Old Trafford PA announcing no food or drink was available in the concourse kiosks due to a technical fault.

United fans laughed it off, but in typical fashion of late, they were desperate for something from the top shelf before long as Boro equalised.

Pogba, who came off on 80 minutes, definitely provides something that no-one else can in the United midfield.

And his return in this form can certainly provide a spark to seal a top four finish.

But it’s the men ahead of him on the field that need to rediscover their shooting boots and fast.

Marcus Rashford, who did have one ruled out for an obvious offside, could have continued to play until next Friday and still not got off the mark.

Middlesbrough progressed in the FA Cup on penalties after awful finishing from United


Middlesbrough progressed in the FA Cup on penalties after awful finishing from UnitedCredit: PA

LIkewise Bruno Fernandes, who fluffed a superb chance to win it when hitting the post.

That is now three goals, two coming in the draw with Aston Villa, in 19 games for last season’s top scorer.

And then there is Ronaldo, the sulky and frustrated figure who also could not hit a barn door against the Boro on the day before his 37th birthday.

The Portuguese legend is still undoubtedly one of the greatest on the planet, but that’s four matches in a row for him without finding the net.

Hardly worrying – but when you set your standards as high as he has both fans, team-mates and himself expect more.

And they will all have to be a lot more cut-throat when they had to battling Burnley next week.

⚽ Read our Manchester United live blog for the latest news and transfer gossip from Old Trafford

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