Hodgson reveals specific tactical role for Ayew that stopped Pogba playing well
Roy Hodgson has praised Jordan Ayew for sticking to the job he was asked to do - stop Paul Pogba from picking Crystal Palace apart on Saturday.
Ayew more than did his bit to help the Eagles pull off their stunning late show at Old Trafford as the club recorded their first-ever victory over Manchester United in the Premier League courtesy of Patrick van Aanholt’s stoppage-time winner on Saturday.
The Ghana international opened the scoring for Hodgson’s men and the Palace boss was quick to praise the striker for his response to not starting away at Sheffield United in the previous fixture.
Hodgson admitted Ayew was “unlucky to lose his place” and revealed his decision to select Wilfried Zaha to partner Christian Benteke at Bramall Lane had been tactical.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) August 24, 2019
“He would’ve been quite entitled to say ‘I played quite well against Everton’ but there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to bring him back for this game,” said Hodgson after Saturday’s 2-1 win at the Theatre of Dreams.
“And basically he had a very specific job to do, apart from of course being a good centre-forward, holding the ball up, beating players when he can and scoring goals; he had another very important job to do: making sure Paul Pogba couldn’t come deep and spread passes all around the play.”
And to that end, Ayew certainly fulfilled his manager’s requirements as the World Cup-winning Frenchman failed to spark a United side that had thrashed Chelsea 4-0 in their previous home match.
Pogba ranked at the top for the most goals scored, most shots taken and most assists of any midfielder in the Premier League last term so shutting him down was one of the key factors in Palace’s victory.
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) August 19, 2019
The ex-Juventus star was unable to dictate the game from deep in his own half as Ayew constantly closed him down and blocked off forward passing lanes, forcing Pogba to play sideways and backwards more often than not.