3 Ups and 6 Downs of Manchester United’s 2-2 Draw With Southampton

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Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Never. Just don’t do it. Well, United looked a gift horse in the mouth yesterday. Another golden opportunity missed as both Chelsea and Leicester opened the door and United bottled walking through it for yet another time. For the past three years, United have always struggled with the mental side on the game especially when the pressure is on and Southampton was no different.

 

There are many parts of the game that I need to get off my chest so let’s just get straight into this ups and downs article and digest that slow and poor performance.

 

DOWN – 30 MORE SECONDS

Starting with the biggest one, how does an in-form Man United side not hold on for 30 more seconds with only a corner to defend? This is the difference between a top 4 race and a title race for United, they can’t deal with the pressure and can’t hold on for dying embers of crucial games.

 

Liverpool didn’t win the league because of 4-0 wins against Leicester and Crystal Palace, they won the league due to scrapping wins against Sheffield United and Aston Villa. That’s where United are at. It’s all good winning games 3 or 4 nil but you need to hold on to one goal leads and United don’t do that. A reality check for the players for sure.

 

DOWN – 80 MILLION POUNDS STERLING

What would you do with 80 million pounds sterling? You could buy a house. Buy a car. Invest it into stocks. Start a business. Or you can sign an English centre back who can’t even do his job of winning aerial balls. The first goal isn’t his fault, although his positioning could be better, and neither was the second, well entirely. If you spent 80 million pounds on a defender who is “good” at aerial balls, then you would expect him to take charge at a corner and clear a ball that is within his radius.

 

Overall, Maguire’s positioning was all over the place in this game and allowed Southampton to play their attacking game without disruption. You may disagree with that and fair enough but one thing you can’t disagree with is his captain duties. He should be screaming his lungs out of his chest on that corner and shouting at the players until they get over the line. Does a good leader let that slip late on like that? Does a Roy Keane let that slip late on? Would Nemanja Vidic let that slip late on? I think not.

 

DOWN – TANGLED UP

I’ve never really known why Aaron Wan Bissaka is nicknamed “The Spider”. I assume it’s because of he covers a lot of ground all over the pitch. Well today his legs got all caught up in the webs.

 

Wan Bissaka had a poor performance today, just like at Villa, and was weak on and off the ball. He has been a top player for the majority of the season, but he is having a dry patch and it shows. He should stick to what he is good at and that is defending off the ball and tackling wingers and blocking crosses. I’m a big fan of Aaron so I’m going easy and I’m sure he’ll be back to his best soon.

 

DOWN – STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

I’ve decided to save time and amalgamate all the midfielders into a single solitary down. Apparently Nemanja Matic played today. I don’t remember hearing his name once to be honest. Paul Pogba had a mixed game and to be fair to him he made up for his mistake with a hand in both goals but was still nowhere near his World Cup winning best. Bruno put in one of his worst performances in a United shirt and, despite still getting an assist, our Portuguese Magnifico wasn’t his creativity self. As for Fred and Mctominay, they didn’t have much of an impact on the game to make a judgement.

 

Overall, the midfield was absent today and were a big part of why United couldn’t get over the line against Southampton.

 

DOWN – DOESN’T THE GAME START ON THE FIRST WHISTLE?

When United started slow against Villa, everyone and their dog said that if that happens against a better team, then we will be punished. Case in point. United started slow and lethargic and god behold we got punished. Whether you blame the goal on De Gea’s pass out, Pogba’s mistake or Shaw’s defending, you can’t skip over the whole team’s passion in the first 20.

 

If Martial’s early chance comes in the 30th minute+ then he buries that. The whole team was at snail pace out the starting blocks and today that start cost us. Ole needs to tell the boys that the game starts when the first whistle blows and not in the 18th minute.

 

DOWN – LEFT BACK IN THE MEDICAL ROOM

Ok, really this isn’t United’s fault but it’s still a down because at the end of the day it cost us the game. Luke Shaw had to go off due to an ankle injury that looked rough and he may miss crucial games against Palace and maybe even West Ham. Brandon Williams should be fit for Palace if he only has a cut to the face and not concussion.

 

United have been lucky all week so maybe they were due some bad luck and it’s not down to United but it’s still a down for Ole’s men not just for yesterday, where it cost United the game, but in the near future as well.

 

UP – SPEARHEAD UP TOP

If there was one player who didn’t deserve that late equaliser, it’s Anthony Martial. After a brilliant unselfish hold up play assist for Marcus Rashford, he also scored the best goal of the game to give United the lead. Yes, he could have had more but he was the most lively on the pitch and has warranted my Man of the Match award.

 

In a game of few ups, Martial was a shining light up top for ‘The Red Devils’.

 

UP – MARCUS HAS ARRIVED

If Marcus Rashford scored that chance from less than three yards out then United win that game but we can’t live in ifs, we have to live in absolutes and one absolute is that Rashford had his best game since the restart.

 

Scoring the first United goal and creating chances was exactly what we want to see from the young Englishman and that is exactly what we got here. Don’t let a poor defence take away from a stellar performance from Marcus.

 

UP – OLE GUNN-UP SOLSKJAER

This may be controversial but I’m giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer an UP. Stay with me on this one. I don’t think you can blame Ole for this one and even though the second half tactics were debatable, I believe he did the right thing. Southampton were attacking well and looking dangerous and with keeping Martial and Rashford on, the ability to counterattack was there. If United played their usual attacking game, the likelihood of conceding would have been greater so the tactic to hit the counter was in my opinion the correct one.

 

Bringing off Pogba and Bruno has also raised eyebrows but again I can see why. The amount of games coming up, players need to be rested and Pogba and Bruno have played so much they couldn’t play the full 90 so needed to be substituted at one point.

 

It’s all good to judge in hindsight but in the moment, you don’t have that privilege, so I think that the blame can’t be put on Ole. At the end of the day, it’s not his fault the defence slept for the second goal and threw away the game.

 

What are your thoughts? Leave them below.

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