Stiliyan Petrov suggested Graeme Souness' criticism of Jack Grealish might be motivated by "bitterness" as he defended Aston Villa's captain.

Grealish has been linked with both Manchester City and Manchester United after a fine Premier League campaign in which he has scored seven times and created six assists for a Villa side fighting relegation.

However, the 24-year-old's suitability for a leading top-flight side was questioned by ex-Liverpool skipper Souness, who accused him of being a "passenger" when his team do not have the ball.

"Everyone rolls their sleeves up to be the first, second or third one to press. That is something that is not in his game right now," Souness said in his role as a Sky Sports pundit.

"I'm not denying he has talent - but for me there's a big question mark."

The Scot went on to suggest Grealish is the Premier League's most fouled player because he holds onto the ball too long, with the midfielder biting back on Twitter when he retweeted the statistic that showed he has created the second-most chances in the division.

Former Villa skipper Petrov has no doubt that Grealish could cut it with a bigger club.

"Everybody has a view or an opinion about certain players. I have a completely different view of Jack," he told Stats Perform News.

"I believe he has enormous potential to be a great player. At the moment, Jack believes that everything depends on him. He tries to do everything on his own. He tries to create, he tries to assist, he wants to score. So literally he tries to do everything.

"If Jack moves to a bigger team, there will be certain elements of his game that are going to improve. Jack has everything to be a top player. At the moment, with the current situation at Aston Villa, he is the one everyone looks up to. He wants to be everything for Aston Villa, which is great.

"We forget he's only 24. I don't agree. Yeah, he holds the ball longer because he has to, he needs to do it, and he knows that. But if he moves on to play with better players he knows how to play, he knows how to adapt. Good players do that and he's certainly a good player.

"So I wouldn't really agree with what Graeme is saying. I think sometimes it can be a little bit bitterness, could be a challenge from Souness – he may believe that he's a good player and he's challenging him with what he's saying.

"I can see his point of view is very different to what I think. I believe Jack would be a big asset for a big club."

Petrov, who spent 13 years with Villa, then highlighted Pep Guardiola's praise of Grealish, who the Manchester City boss called "one of the best players in the league" earlier this season.

"That compliment comes from one of the best managers in the world," Petrov added.

"Those managers don't waste their words saying these things. That's why Pep comes out and said he's one of the best and said his performances have attracted attention. It's completely normal."

Rio Ferdinand is baffled how Paul Pogba is still being blamed for Manchester United's issues despite missing most of the season through injury and urged ex-professionals not to "beat him with a stick" just because he is different.

For much of Pogba's second spell at Old Trafford, the France international has polarised opinion among supporters and pundits – with few doubting his ability, but many suggesting he should be decisive on a more consistent basis.

Pogba cost United a reported £89million when he returned from Juventus in 2016, but many former players claim he has not shown enough for that to be considered a good deal, with Roy Keane and Graeme Souness two notably prominent – and frequent – detractors.

He hit back at Souness earlier this month, claiming he did not even know who the Liverpool icon was, prompting the Scot to swipe back with a jibe that urged World Cup-winner Pogba to "put his medals on the table".

And Ferdinand, a former team-mate of Pogba's at United, finds it astonishing the 27-year-old has still attracted a lot of flak this term in spite of making just seven Premier League appearances.

"A lot of it is from social media – a lot of what they say stems from his social media presence and a lot of those guys are old school," Ferdinand said on his official YouTube channel.

"[Ex-pros] want people to follow suit of those before them, they want people to be serious about the game, not broadcasting stuff on social media. He's injured, going to a wedding and dancing, in the changing room and dancing – this is Pogba, that's his life, the way he is.

"You can't beat him with a stick because that's his personality, he's different. This generation of player is different to my generation and even more different to the likes of Keane and Souness. The landscape has changed so much that we can't expect them to behave the way we did.

"Pogba doesn't drink, he's not a nightclub merchant, but he goes on social media. What's worse? Because the people we were talking about before, like myself, would be in a nightclub, or drinking at times, but he doesn't do that.

"But he's still being vilified for being present, happy. And that's a big thing – he's being happy while injured. I don't agree with that [criticism] – mental health is a big issue, if you can't be yourself in your downtime while injured… What do people expect? You to sit around and be depressed?

"To keep on absolutely pounding him with blame and bringing his name into the conversation right now in such a negative way. He's played seven [Premier League] games this season, and he's the focal point as to why United aren't doing so well. How does that happen, how is he to blame?"

Ferdinand feels Pogba might have expected more from himself since re-joining, though he does not think the midfielder has been helped by the state of United's recruitment and planning.

"I've said on multiple occasions, he's a very honest guy and he will have expected more in himself," he added. "But when you actually look at his stats in the squad in the last four seasons played, he's at the top in terms of passing, chances created, assists, ball retention – he's the catalyst pushing the team on when fully fit.

"Has he been the Pogba we come to expect on a consistent basis when he's a £90m transfer? I'd argue he probably hasn't been as consistent as you'd like, but this has been a squad in absolute transition and has had multiple managers.

"If you spend £90m in a certain part of your business, you'd probably make that the jewel in your crown, but I don't think that's happened with Pogba."

Graeme Souness has responded to an apparent jibe from Paul Pogba by telling the Manchester United midfielder to "put your medals on the table".

Former Liverpool captain Souness has been an outspoken critic of Pogba for a perceived inability to make the most of his talent.

The ex-Scotland international recently claimed in the Sunday Times that Pogba would be "an absolute doddle to play against" because his attitude is to be "the star of the show".

Last month, Souness used Everton midfielder Andre Gomes' return from a serious ankle injury to question whether Pogba had worked hard enough to recover fitness following his own ankle operation.

Speaking to the UTD Podcast about his critics, Pogba said of Souness: "I didn't know who he was, really. I heard he was a great player. I don't stay and listen to what they're going to say after a game, and why they've done this."

In response, Souness said on Sky Sports on Tuesday: "I'm happy with that. The oldest saying in football comes to mind: Put your medals on the table."

Souness enjoyed a hugely successful career, winning five league titles and three European Cups with Liverpool among a host of other trophies, while Pogba's second spell with United has been comparatively lean.

However, the France international won the World Cup in 2018 and claimed eight trophies with Juventus, including four Serie A titles, before winning the EFL Cup and Europa League with United in 2016-17.

Speaking about critics in general, Pogba made it clear he pays them little mind and is only concerned with the views of his team-mates and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"I guess they miss me," he said when asked why there is so much scrutiny on him even when he is out injured. "When I watch a game, I like to watch a game, not the comments. When you're a fan and when you know football, you don't need someone to tell you what's happening.

"When I hear people putting my name out, 'Paul is doing this, Paul, Paul'... I really want to know why. During my recovery I can be somewhere else, but I'm just doing my recovery and I hear my name again.

"If you score one goal or you scored a hat-trick, you know you played a good game, or sometimes you can score a hat-trick and play a bad game, and you know yourself.

"When you're really a football fan, you know yourself if you played well or you didn't play well, and you don't need someone else to tell you.

"If they want to speak, they're allowed to speak. That's their job. For me, it's their job to speak. They've been talking and I'm used to it now. I'm really used to it, so it doesn't bother me.

"Obviously, it is always good to hear the good stuff and better to hear that than the bad stuff. Like I said, when you play football, you hear stuff, but you know yourself, you know your manager and know your team-mates and know what you want. The rest is just talk and selling stuff. I think people like it.

"I'm someone who watches football and stuff, but I don't stay and listen to what they're going to say after the game and why they have done this. I like to focus on football.

"As a football player, you will get criticised, judged, some people like you, some people won't. You can't love everyone. Life is like that - you have different tastes and everything.

"Criticism in football will happen. The manager knows, you give your best, you give everything on the pitch, that's all that matters."

Paul Pogba would be "an absolute doddle to play against" because of his poor work ethic, according to Graeme Souness.

The Liverpool legend is a long-time critic of the Manchester United midfielder and reckons he would easily get the better of the Frenchman.

While Souness lauded Pogba's technical and physical attributes, he blasted the 27-year-old's attitude. 

Writing in his column in The Times, Souness responded to a reader's question about his supposed "disdain" for Pogba.

"Pogba has absolutely everything to be a top player — great athleticism, super technique — but his attitude to the game is the polar opposite of mine," wrote the Scot, who won the top flight five times as a Liverpool player.

"He goes out with one thought in his mind: 'I'm going to show everyone how clever I am today and be the star of the show'.

"My attitude, the way I was taught, was: 'Go out and work harder than the guy you're in against and see where that takes you'.

"He'd be an absolute doddle to play against."

Pogba has been largely inconsistent since returning to Old Trafford, where his contract is set to expire next year.

United have an option to extend his stay for a further 12 months, although the France star has been frequently linked with Real Madrid amid an injury-ruined season.

Manchester United deserved not to have Marcus Rashford's opener against Liverpool ruled out by VAR, according to Roy Keane.

Rashford tapped home Daniel James' cross in the 36th minute to put United 1-0 up at Old Trafford, finishing a move that started when Divock Origi lost the ball in a challenge from Victor Lindelof.

Replays appeared to show Lindelof making contact with Origi's leg, but the decision to allow the goal was upheld.

Jurgen Klopp was further annoyed when Sadio Mane saw a potential equaliser before half-time ruled out for handball following an intervention from VAR.

"Sometimes you need a few breaks in this game and United got a few breaks, but maybe they've earned it. They've been the best team," said former Red Devils midfielder Keane on Sky Sports.

Graeme Souness, an ex-Liverpool midfielder and manager, believed Rashford's strike should have been ruled out.

"I think Lindelof catches the inside of [Origi's] left leg and any way you look at it it's a foul," said Souness.

"It's a foul when you come through the back of someone, regardless of his touch. Origi has been kicked, below his left knee.

"The term is, what, 'not sufficient contact'? If you kick someone from behind it's a foul, not up for discussion."

Former United boss Jose Mourinho was unwilling to offer an opinion, though. He said: "Can I run away from it and focus on what happened after?

"Before the game I was speaking about Rashford being the only point of counter-attack. United surprised because they have two, playing with James and Rashford in a position as two wide strikers. For this goal, they transitioned well."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.