UNITED’S 2-2 home draw with Southampton in the Premier League on Monday keeps them outside the Champions League places.
Michael Obafemi’s injury-time equaliser exposed once again a softness at the heart of United’s defence.
Man Utd skipper Harry Maguire sums up the frustration of the home side after Southampton deservedly snatched a 2-2 draw in stoppage time
Scott McTominay, a late replacement for Bruno Fernandes, troops off after Southampton’s own substitute Michael Obafemi bundled home on 96 minutes
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reflects on a draw that kept Man Utd out of the top four
And it’s a weakness that must be rectified if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to take his team from top four challengers to genuine title hopefuls over the next couple of seasons.
There were signs in the recent games against Aston Villa away and Bournemouth at home that United’s brittle defence might eventually cost them, and that proved to be the case on Monday evening.
I must say that the result wasn’t a fluke. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side left the North West with a fully deserved point which probably feels like a defeat for United because of the fine form they’ve have been in.
But qualification for the Champions League is still in their hands and a real possibility.
Attention for United now turns to the game against Crystal Palace on Thursday evening.
Palace have been accused of being on the “beach” already and with United in town they’ll feel they have something to prove to their watching supporters at home.
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It’s been mentioned on social media that United “bottled” their opportunity to climb into third place, but I’m not so sure that is the case.
They’re still unbeaten in their past 18 games in all competitions, a run that hasn’t been bettered since between April and November 2010.
Only if they fail to qualify for the Champions League can we look at mindset as being one of the issues.
Every team in every league has to earn three points and United are no different.
In any season, there will be blips, loss of confidence and injuries that test the whole squad.
Perhaps in the game v Southampton, we witnessed all three, but a point is better than a defeat and it shouldn’t be dwelt on for too long.
Michael Obafemi, 20, wheels away in delight after his point-saver for Southampton at Old Trafford
Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, it’s clear that this United squad needs strengthening if it’s to reach the “next level”.
United are crying out for more quality and versatility, because while the starting XI is very good, the supporting cast are either unreliable when it comes to their injury record, or simply not good enough. And in some cases, a bit of both.
Solskjaer’s failure to get what he wants during the window could mean teams like Wolves, Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal surpass them next season.
And the United board should be mindful of taking one step forward and two steps back.
So as it stands, there’s no reason to panic. For Solskjaer, it’s been a bit of a perfect storm since the turn of the year as well, and he must continue to receive support.
The form has improved greatly, Paul Pogba has returned from injury, Bruno Fernandes has been a revelation, and a team full of confidence and scoring goals has entertained supporters.
The time to judge will come at the end of the season and then we’ll see if the board can match the work Solskjaer is doing with his team on the pitch.
By: Ian Tuckey
Title: Man Utd didn’t ‘bottle’ it vs Southampton but mentality will be questioned if they fail to get Champions League spot
Sourced From: www.thesun.co.uk/sport/12133812/man-utd-champions-league-premier-southampton-fans-view/
Published Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2020 17:35:12 +0000