- United dropped points for the second game running, as the Saints visited Old Trafford and thoroughly deserved to share the spoils in a very entertaining match, at least for the neutrals. United fans will probably feel disappointed with the final result, particularly as we chase a fourth spot in the table and Champions League participation next season and this result has not been helpful. Just as in midweek away to Burnley, United were the brighter side in the first half and after missing a couple of sitters, Sancho put his side one up, tapping in a low cross from Rashford, who had raced through on the flank and neatly slid the ball to the onrushing Sancho. Despite having more opportunities, United failed to double their lead, as the Saints started seeing more of the ball and also creating some attacks. Southampton’s reaction continued in the second half and before long, Che Adams equalised with a low shot from the side of the penalty area, which beat De Gea off the foot of the far post. Both sides created enough chances to win a couple of matches in the second half but neither failed to break the deadlock, with the result pleasing more the visitors than United.
- For as long as I’ve been contributing with these articles, I rarely pick on individual players after a match, whatever the result. Everyone makes mistakes and we’re all humans, even the players who are paid millions every season to perform. Today, I will make an exception, not necessarily to damn the players involved but to make an argument which has to do mostly with how the Manager responds to a terrible eight days, during which we dropped four points in the Premiership against Burnley and Southampton and got dumped out of the FA Cup by Boro. My first comment relates to Ronaldo, certainly one of the greatest players to have graced a football pitch and a legend for United. I sincerely think that something is not right with Ronaldo, evidently something in his mind. I won’t go in his theatrics when he is dropped or substituted – despite these being very damaging for his teammates coming from the most experienced player – but I will focus on his end product. Ronaldo has not scored for the last six weeks and he has not even been involved in any of United’s goals during that period. The worst thing is that the team is creating plenty of chances, probably as a result of the 4-3-3 formation which I really think suits the United set of players. During these weeks, he missed a number of good chances, some of them easy chances by his elevated standards, including a penalty. Against Southampton, he managed to not score after rounding the keeper with an empty goal waiting. I believe in the phrase “Form is temporary, class is permanent” but at this juncture, the Manager has to drop Ronaldo for a match or two. If he loves the Club, he will fight back to regain his place in the first eleven. No one is bigger than United. Same goes for Luke Shaw. His form is far from the best Shaw that we admired in the last two years. He looks lazy and disinterested at times and seems to lose focus in key moments when the team is defending. In the build-up to Southampton’s goal, he failed to stay in line with his fellow defenders when the ball was being played on the other flank and as a result, he kept the Che Adams on side before the latter went on to score. The same happened in the match against Burnley in midweek. With Maguire and McTominay losing out to Burnley’s centre forward, Varane pushed up to confront him and Shaw who was until then in line, failed to follow up and push forward with Varane. That meant that he kept Rodriguez on side and the rest is history. Some might say that these are only details. I think these are critical moments in a game which can sway a result from one team to the other. Another situation where the Manager has to show that the players who are most in form will make the starting line-up.
- In the last few matches, with the new system being deployed by Rangnick, a number of players looked comfortable and played very well. Pogba, Fernandes and Sancho were the pick of the bunch and the special mention today goes to Sancho, who seems to have found his rhythm and has scored his first goal at Old Trafford in the Premier League against the Saints.
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Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.