Paul Pogba and Ruben Neves were involved in the incident shortly before the game’s only goal
Paul Pogba’s tackle on Ruben Neves in the build-up to Manchester United’s winning goal against Wolves was a potential “leg-breaker”, according to Graeme Souness.
Mason Greenwood’s late strike earned United a 1-0 win at Molineux but only after the hosts had missed several clear chances to win the match themselves.
In the build-up to the goal, Pogba and Neves went in for a 50-50 on the outside of the Wolves box following a heavy touch from the United midfielder. Neves went to ground following a delayed reaction while United played the ball wide to Greenwood, who slammed a shot past goalkeeper Jose Sa.
Referee Mike Dean, who was close to the incident, did not see a foul and VAR did not intervene despite Wolves’ protests. Replays showed that Pogba grazed Neves’ shin with his follow-through but contact was minimal.
Pogba’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said it was a “fair challenge” but Souness, as well as former Manchester United captain Roy Keane, disagreed after the match on Sky Sports.
“It’s impossible for anyone who knows anything about football to say that’s not a foul,” Souness said.
“The referee is two metres away from it – whether [Neves] goes down immediately or not, that’s immaterial. That’s a leg-breaker. Any player who’s ever played the game standing two yards from that challenge would say that’s a dangerous challenge.”
Keane added: “I think it’s a foul. But Neves is too honest. If he’d gone down straight away I think he’d have given a free-kick.
“[Pogba] is out of control, but I think he’s taken too long to react. The kid’s almost too honest. If the referee had given a free-kick, I don’t think one United player would complain.”
Neves was adamant that it was a foul and the Wolves midfielder suggested that the goal United conceded in their 1-1 draw at Southampton last weekend had made an impact in Dean’s decision, in which Bruno Fernandes wanted a foul following a tackle from Jack Stephens but didn’t get one.
Ruben Neves led the Wolves protests after the 1-0 defeat
“Everyone saw it, everyone saw my leg, we always do meetings and everything with referees about VAR, I don’t know why,” Neves told Sky Sports.
“They said before the season started they will look for contact – if the contact is strong enough, they will give the foul. I showed them my leg.
“I think maybe because last game it was a foul before the Southampton goal, maybe now they did the opposite. I showed my leg to the ref, I showed to the assistant ref, I cannot say anything more.
“After the game he said ‘you both go to the ball’ and I said ‘yes, we both go to win the ball but I was the one who touched the ball.’ It’s a foul, a clear foul.”
Pogba added: “My view is this is the Premier League. Every weekend there are 50-50s happening and today there was a question. If it’s a foul, it’s a foul – but if it’s not a foul, it’s not a foul. I need to see it again but I didn’t touch him.”
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