Jose Mourinho insisted he is happy for Paul Pogba to remain his penalty taker despite the midfielder missing from the spot for the second time this season in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Everton.
Pogba at least netted the rebound after a stunning save from Jordan Pickford appeared to have punished him for a bizarre, stuttering run-up that featured 26 steps.
Anthony Martial won the penalty, after going down under a challenge from Idrissa Gueye, although Everton manager Marco Silva accused him of diving to gain the decision.
And, after Martial had scored a second to continue his recent fine form, Everton won a penalty of their own, converted by Gylfi Sigurdsson, to ensure United faced an anxious 13 minutes before the final whistle.
But a relieved Mourinho praised Pogba after the game for having the mental strength to take the 27th minute penalty.
“The thing I like is the desire to take it,” said Mourinho. “I don’t like Mickey Mouses, fragile, afraid, who go, ‘I don’t take penalties.’ I like the player that wants to take it. Paul wants to take them and that, for me, is fantastic. Can he improve? I think he can. The goalkeepers know his running, they don’t move and they are waiting for his decision, so he has to learn from that but for me the most important thing is he wants to go again.”
Silva was less pleased with United’s French connection, as he accused Martial of diving to win the penalty award from Jon Moss.
“It was not a penalty, clearly the player dived, it leaves a bad sensation. I told the players at half-time it was not a fair result,” said the Portuguese coach. “That moment makes it easy for our opponents. You are more exposed then because you have to take more risks.”
There was no dispute about Martial’s second goal, after 49 minutes, as he gathered a short pass from Pogba and curled a superb 18-yard shot past Pickford.
But, after Bernard had rounded David de Gea but somehow placed the ball into the side-netting three minutes later, Everton finally claimed a deserved goal after Chris Smalling brought down Richarlison.
Victory vindicated Mourinho’s decision to drop Romelu Lukaku from his starting line-up although the United manager, while claiming he was happy with his team’s performance, followed up with a damning analysis of his side’s current limitations.
“We are playing okay,” said Mourinho. “We are not as rock solid as I would like, we don’t have that killer instinct I would like. Some teams they have three chances and score three goals. Some teams without the ball, can resist and keep a clean sheet all the time. But for us in this moment it is almost impossible to keep a clean sheet even with the phenomenal goalkeeper we have. And to score goals is really difficult for us — you can see that in this moment. In the last nine matches, between (Marcus) Rashford and Lukaku, we’ve scored one goal.”