Paul Pogba relishing big games as Manchester United march on at Fulham

Manchester United’s in-form striker Paul Pogba said greater challenges lie ahead for the club after scoring twice in a 3-0 win away to Premier League strugglers Fulham on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 09 February 2019
0

Paul Pogba relishing big games as Manchester United march on at Fulham

LONDON: Manchester United’s in-form striker Paul Pogba said greater challenges lie ahead for the club after scoring twice in a 3-0 win away to Premier League strugglers Fulham on Saturday.
The French midfielder fired United into an early lead and, after Anthony Martial made it 2-0, wrapped up the win with a second-half penalty at Craven Cottage.
Victory continued United’s meteoric revival under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they climbed into fourth in the Premier League, one point above Chelsea, who face Manchester City today.
By contrast, United were 11 points adrift of the top four when Jose Mourinho was sacked as their manager in December.
“It feels great, that’s what we wanted since Ole came,” Pogba, who had a strained relationship with Mourinho, said.
“We talked about this there’s still a long way to go but we want to stay there.”
United have won 10 of their 11 matches since former Red Devils striker Solskjaer returned to Old Trafford.
“We were very far behind and now we get back to the top four but there’s still a long way to go with big games coming up so it won’t be easy,” Pogba said ahead of a Champions League last 16 first leg against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
“It will be the big games coming up now that decide where we end the season.”
As for his goal double against Fulham, Pogba said: “It’s always great to score goals, most important is to win games. When you score but don’t win it’s not the same feeling.
“I just focus on trying to put the ball inside the goal. This game was very important, like you can see we are fourth, even though Chelsea haven’t played. It’s a good sign, even though we have to carry on to stay there.
“We’ve played better but getting two quick goals in the first half changed the game. Ole helps every player play at their best, Ole is himself. He’s not acting and he’s given joy and confidence to everyone.
“The team has a really good atmosphere. You can see on the pitch the effect (of him).
“There is a long way to go with big games coming up. We’ve got to focus on PSG and try and get points from the big teams,” he said.
Solksjaer, the man of the moment at United, said he was pleased his side managed to recover from a shaky start in which Fulham created two very clear-cut chances.
“The first 10 minutes we made it hard for ourselves but the last 80 minutes pleased me. We managed the game well which you have to do away from home and we played some fantastic football.
“The players have some fantastic qualities. I’ve supported United for many years and as a United fan you go into every game thinking you’re going to win it. We’re on a great run but I think the players are feeling the same.
“We know how good Paul Pogba is and he scored a great goal,” the Norwegian said.
“We want to keep moving forward and hang onto this fourth place. When you win games, you’re always happy and I think the crowd will enjoy the trip home,” he added.
For Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri, it was yet another frustrating day at the office.
“We created two great chances in the first 10 minutes but after we conceded we gave it to them and lost our composure. When you play against big champions you can make mistakes,” he said.
“I tried to give my players more opportunities by playing with two strikers and Ryan Babel in behind. We didn’t create anything very dangerous and the penalty finished the match.”
On Andre Schurrle’s substitution, Ranieri explained himself by saying: “I know the fans were not happy but I had two players with flu in the week, including Andre Schurrle. I can understand the fans always want their players to play but it’s not always possible.
“We will work to try and win our next two games. We’re always positive.”


Hamilton looking to extend F1 lead at Singapore Grand Prix

Updated 20 September 2019

Hamilton looking to extend F1 lead at Singapore Grand Prix

  • Hamilton will be hoping for a repeat of the 2018 race here when he won comfortably from pole position to extend his championship lead

SINGAPORE: Lewis Hamilton aims to turn up the heat in his bid for a sixth Formula One championship at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver heads into Sunday’s race with a 63-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas.

As with last year’s race, drivers can expect sweltering heat and humidity. In addition to the heat, a thick haze has set in over the city-state with adviseries issued from the national government over “unhealthy” air conditions.

Hamilton will be hoping for a repeat of the 2018 race here when he won comfortably from pole position to extend his championship lead.

He was on a major roll entering last year’s GP, having won four of the past five races. While he already has eight wins this season, the British driver last won at the Hungarian GP in early August.

“The offset schedule and the climate make it a demanding weekend for the team,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said of the night race. “Temperatures in the garage can easily reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) or more with high humidity levels as well. It’s a tough environment to work in and it’s equally challenging for the drivers and the car itself.”

Hamilton has won here the last two years. A win on Sunday would move him a step closer to his third straight championship and sixth overall, moving him just one away from equaling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven titles.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc heads into Singapore having won the previous two races this season. After his first-ever F1 victory in Spa at the Belgian GP, the 21-year-old Leclerc became the first Ferrari driver to win the Italian GP since Fernando Alonso in 2010.

Leclerc, who is now fourth in the standings, finished ninth for Sauber here last year.

“Singapore is maybe the toughest track for us drivers physically, just because of the heat and the humidity,” Leclerc said. 

“After two positive weekends in Belgium and Italy, the race in Singapore doesn’t look as good on paper for us, because of the very different circuit layout, featuring lots of slow corners and fewer straights ... but we will give our all to have a
good result.”

The 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) Marina Bay Street circuit is one of the hardest tracks for overtaking in F1, so whoever takes pole on Saturday will have the upper hand. The driver leading the field has won eight times in the past 10 years.