Manchester United’s penalties awarded so far this season has been quite a talking point. On Monday, yet again their fixture and qualification to the semi-final of the Europa League was decided by virtue of a penalty against Copenhagen.
In fact, that kick of the ball was the 21st time that the Red Devils were awarded a penalty this campaign, which is in and of itself a remarkable tally.
This does not help the criticism hurled at the side for relying too much on such instances to nick away crucial game moments.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær is clearly aware of this narrative and gave a piece of his mind about it after the game in Cologne, stating: “The penalties? We play attacking football, we often have the ball in the box and in the feet, we are not a team that crosses a lot. We have fast players. I am happy not to be a defender against them.”
Certainly a proud owning up the ethos of attacking football he is trying to perfect at the side, akin to the days when he was at Old Trafford as a player.
This idea was explained in some detail by a Twitter user in response to the Norwegian’s justification.
A tiny bit there that’s important – we dont cross a lot.
It’s true we dont. We dont have natural wingers or attacking fullbacks.
Our game is built arnd passing & dribbling into the box with low whipped crosses from fullbacks.
More balls to the feet leading to more penalties. https://t.co/qzDpRmWvia
— ManUtdSense (@SensibleUtd) August 10, 2020
There is certainly quite a bit of merit to this explanation and does espouse how good a job is done by the forward line.
However, this is also a narrative that the side will have to keep responding to over and over again, not akin to the players with high goal tallies being looked down upon if a decent chunk of the same arrives through penalties.
An intriguing line of thought nevertheless. What do you think Solskjær’s argument functions as – a valid explanation throwing some shade at the likes of Liverpool or a concocted excuse to criticism?