Paul Pogba has explained why he let Ashley Young take free-kicks during the 4-2 win over Watford on Tuesday night.
The Frenchman, with Man United already 1-0 up following Young’s pin-point strike, drove into Watford’s half and won a free kick about 25 yards from goal.
And Young, with his tail up having scored his first goal in 18 months, duly stepped up and fired a sumptuous swerving effort into the top left hand corner.
Speaking to MUTV, Pogba, noted that the side takes up a more instinctive approach when it comes to deciding who takes free-kicks.
“To be honest, I won the foul and he just came and took the ball straight away,” he said. “He didn’t even speak because he was so confident.
“He took it and scored. But I would never fight it for a free-kick or a penalty, or whatever, because we all want the same result. We want to score and we want to win the game. So I was very happy.”
And when asked who would be on free-kick duties at Arsenal, Pogba replied: “The one who is feeling it the most. Ash just scored the goal at Watford so if he feels it then fine, or I feel it then I will tell him. We will see what happens in the game.”
United’s free-kick methodology provides us with a fitting microcosm of the overall mentality for any Mourinho side.
While Louis van Gaal established a strange rota for penalties, which ruled that anybody who missed would go bottom of the list, Mourinho allows his players to think on their feet.
This is how football, in the 54-year-old’s eyes, should be played: as a series of pragmatic reactions to what comes at you – ingenuity over cold calculation, innovation over a set-plan. In other words, the players are the architects of their own design rather than just props in a fixed, structural approach.
And while Mourinho often cops criticism for his ‘negative’ style, what can be more liberating – and different from his predecessor – than giving players compete agency over their attacking intentions?