In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast, former England international Carlton Palmer has delivered his verdict on whether Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba should have been awarded a penalty against Aston Villa.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side moved level on points with Premier League leaders Liverpool with a 2-1 victory over Villa courtesy of a penalty from Bruno Fernandes.
The Red Devils have recovered from a tricky start to the season and find themselves top of the table with a game in-hand over their arch-rivals.
But Villa boss Dean Smith was far from happy with the decision, as he vented his frustrations after the game.
He told BBC Sport: “I don’t see why Michael couldn’t have looked at it. That’s what VAR is for isn’t it?
“I thought it was a penalty at the time, but I looked at it after the game and saw he tripped himself. I don’t think it’s a penalty.
“I think there’s enough doubt there to send the referee over to the screen.”
United were awarded a penalty after Douglas Luiz was adjudged to have clipped Pogba inside the box in one of the most controversial moments in the game.
When questioned about the decision, Palmer moved to defend Pogba from criticism.
He told Football FanCast‘s Tom Ward this week:
“Well, first and foremost, the referee gave the penalty in real time. Secondly, I’ve got to be honest with you, why has the defender got his hands all over him? He’s got his hands all over him.
“If he doesn’t get that close to Pogba, it doesn’t become a problem. I’ve watched it hundreds of times and I still can’t make out whether he catches Pogba first or if Pogba trips first – either way he’s made contact with him.
“No player is going to turn around and say, right, I’m sorry, it’s not a penalty. And it’s very difficult to see if Douglas Luiz makes contact with him before or afterwards?”
He added: “At the end of the day, the way I look at it as a defender, get yourself into a good position, get your arms off the player, and you avoid that situation.
“Do I think it was a penalty? I don’t think Pogba was trying to cheat. Only the defender knows and Pogba knows whether he tripped over his own foot or the defender caught him.
“All I will say is that from the defender’s point of view, I think he got himself into a bad position and he’s got his arms around him.”
Solskjaer’s side play host to Manchester City at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup semi-finals on Wednesday night.
Pogba, 27, has provided two goals and three assists in 20 appearances across all competitions, via Transfermarkt.
With the club still looking for his first piece of silverware since he first took charge of his former club, one suspects Pogba may yet have a part to play as their quest for trophies continues.