EPL

Pogba can play a massive part in helping Man Utd win title, says Rooney

By Sports Desk January 21, 2021

Paul Pogba can make the difference for Manchester United and help them win the Premier League title this season, according to club legend Wayne Rooney.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side overcame an early deficit to defeat Fulham 2-1 on Wednesday, a result that moved them back to the top of the table. 

While Manchester City and Leicester City are just two points adrift – and defending champions Liverpool are six back with a game in hand - Rooney feels his former side have the strength in depth to last the distance. 

United's all-time leading scorer pointed to Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani helping to add a winning mentality to the squad, though Rooney feels Pogba is key to their hopes of success.

"Over the last few years Man United haven't been ready to challenge for the title," Rooney, now appointed as permanent boss at Derby County, told the media on Thursday. 

"Where I think now, they've built a squad of players. Fernandes coming in has helped massively. Cavani, with that winning mentality, has helped massively - now the squad is challenging for the Premier League title.  

"I said six weeks ago to the coaches in the office that I felt Man United will win the league. I still feel that today - and Paul Pogba will have a massive part to play in that. 

"They have bought players in who have a winning mentality, who will relieve a bit of the pressure on Paul and let him do what he does best in showing his quality on the pitch."

Victory at Fulham means United are now unbeaten in their past 17 Premier League away games, equalling their longest ever such run on the road in top-flight history. 

Pogba scored the winner in the 65th minute, his sixth in the competition from outside the penalty area in his career but just the third he has managed with his left foot.  

Having lined up wide on the right in the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at the weekend, the France international was utilised in a deeper central midfield role at Craven Cottage, though still made the most passes in the opposing team's half of any player on the pitch, demonstrating his influence on proceedings.

Pogba, whose long-term future with the Red Devils still remains in some doubt, also managed the only goal of the game in the recent 1-0 triumph at Burnley.

Related items

  • Serena to retire: The remarkable stats, facts and figures that highlight Williams' legacy Serena to retire: The remarkable stats, facts and figures that highlight Williams' legacy

    Serena Williams' long and illustrious tennis career is drawing to a close after the American confirmed on Tuesday that the countdown has begun.

    Following a long piece in Vogue, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks", suggesting the US Open – which begins in late August – will be her last outing.

    Thanks to her success and brilliance on the court, Williams has become synonymous with tennis and is regarded by many as the greatest the women's sport has ever seen.

    Yet, her seemingly imminent retirement cannot be seen as a shock. At the age of 40, Williams has persisted with tennis far longer than most do, and that is testament to her quality and enduring desire for success.

    With Williams now reaching the end, Stats Perform takes a look at the key facts, stats and figures of her career; in other words, Serena's remarkable legacy.

    Twenty-three… and counting?

    Of course, the headline fact for Williams' career is her grand slam titles count.

    She has won 23, which is more than anyone else in the Open era.

    But she's still got one target left: matching Margaret Court. The Australian's 24 grand slam successes include nine won before the Open era began in 1968, though her overall total has been the benchmark ever since she claimed her final crown at the US Open in 1975.

    Clearly, victory for Williams at Flushing Meadows would be the perfect farewell.

    The finals hurdle

    Even if Williams only reaches the championship match next month, she'll still be equalling a different record.

    Assuming she does compete in Queens, Williams heads into the US Open having played in 33 grand slam finals, one more than Martina Navratilova.

    But Chris Evert (34) sits out in front, and that record will remain hers for many, many years if Williams cannot reach the finale at Flushing Meadows.

    Top of the pile

    It's been a while now since Williams was last the highest-ranked player in the world, but in a way that only further highlights how remarkable her career has been.

    She's spent 319 weeks ranked as world number one, which is behind only Steffi Graf (377) and Navratilova (332).

    While many might have expected Williams to have been top of the pile for even longer, it's worth remembering how she's spent time out due to injuries and pregnancy, with her general involvement in top-level tennis decreasing after 2014 when she played 16 tournaments – in 2016 that halved to eight, and during no year since has she played in more.

    Additionally, some will also be surprised to learn she actually only finished the year as the top-ranked female player five times. Nevertheless, that's still third to only Graf (eight) and Navratilova (seven).

    Go hard or go home

    Such has been Williams' quality, she was always considered a threat regardless of the surface – she's won each grand slam at least three times.

    But there's no denying she was at her most lethal on hard courts.

    She has won 48 WTA Tour-level titles on hard courts, which is 11 more than anyone else (Graf) in the Open era.

    Those 48 come from a grand total of 73 across all surfaces, leaving her ranked fifth behind Navratilova (167), Evert (157), Graf (107) and Court (92).

    Surface to say…

    Williams' comfort on hard courts goes even further than that.

    She's won 539 matches on the surface, making her one of just two female players to surpass 500 victories on one specific ground type.

    Navratilova (600 on carpet) is the only other player to achieve the feat, with Serena's sister Venus (498 on hard) the closest to the 23-time grand slam champion.

    The grass is greener

    Despite that unrivalled excellence, hard courts may not be the surface many feel to be most synonymous with Williams, however.

    Wimbledon is the tournament that would appear to be her favourite.

    She's reached the final at SW19 11 times. Only Navratilova can better that record for the most finals at one tournament – though it's worth saying she contested the WTA Finals and Chicago 14 times each, Eastbourne 13 times and 12 at Wimbledon.

  • Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale out for season after fracturing wrist in bicycle accident Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale out for season after fracturing wrist in bicycle accident

    Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale will miss the remainder of the season due to a fractured right wrist sustained during a bicycle accident on Saturday.

    The oft-injured left-hander underwent surgery on Monday, and the team said he is expected to be ready for the start of spring training in 2023.

    Sale was already on the injured list and hoped to pitch later in the season after sustaining a broken left pinkie on July 17 against the New York Yankees when he was hit by a line drive in the first inning.

    That outing was just Sale's second start of the season after recovering from a fractured rib sustained while working out during the Major League Baseball lockout.

    Sale signed a five-year, $145million contract extension with Boston in 2019, but he has pitched a combined 48 1/3 innings since the end of that campaign.

    The seven-time All-Star missed the pandemic-shortened 2020 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery before making his 2021 debut on August 14, going 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA in nine starts.

  • Isco determined to prove doubters wrong after ending Real Madrid exile with Sevilla move Isco determined to prove doubters wrong after ending Real Madrid exile with Sevilla move

    Isco is determined to prove he is still capable of performing at an elite level after ending his spell in the Real Madrid wilderness by joining Sevilla.

    The midfielder, a five-time Champions League winner who made 353 appearances during a nine-year spell with Los Blancos, fell out of favour following Carlo Ancelotti's return to the Santiago Bernabeu last year.

    He left the Spanish capital following the expiration of his contract in June, having made just three starts during Madrid's double-winning 2021-22 campaign, playing just 406 minutes in all competitions.

    Sevilla swooped to sign the 30-year-old on a free transfer on Monday, and Isco hopes the move will revitalise his career.

    "I want to show the level that I have and that I have never lost. It's normal for there to be doubts, but I'll take care of dispelling them," he told the club's media channels after signing a two-year deal.

    "It has been a difficult summer, different. I've had too many vacations, I've taken advantage of them to get in shape and now I can't wait to play again, which I haven't done for a while.

    "I'm not complaining, I've been lucky because I've played for big clubs and I've won almost everything, but I don't like to think too much about the past but about what's to come."

    Isco's arrival in Seville will see him reunited with a familiar face in Julen Lopetegui, who coached him at Madrid in 2018 and during a spell as Spain boss between 2016 and 2018. 

    And the playmaker is excited to work with him at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, adding: "He has always trusted me and I like his football, what he proposes. It is a football that is more suitable for my style.

    "I thank him for his confidence, which for a footballer is paramount. The confidence he has given me, it has always been the maximum. Now it's up to me to restore his confidence on the pitch and show him that he's not wrong."

    Isco could make his Sevilla debut when they begin their LaLiga campaign at Osasuna on Friday. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.