Man United must ‘change’ to make top four after Southampton stumble
Manchester United defender Luke Shaw warned there is “no way” the Red Devils will reach the Champions League next season if they continue to throw away leads after a 1-1 draw with Southampton on Saturday.
For the third consecutive game, United let a 1-0 half-time lead slip as Che Adams’ strike early in the second period earned the Saints a deserved point.
Jadon Sancho’s first Premier League goal at home rewarded a bright start from Ralf Rangnick’s men.
Yet the Red Devils again failed to build on their advantage and were punished when Adams slotted in off the inside of the post two minutes into the second half.
A point edges United level on points with fourth-placed West Ham.
But Arsenal is just a point behind with two games in hand, while Tottenham has played three fewer games and are four points back.
“We started really well the first 20 minutes, got the goal and it just happened again. We know it’s not good enough and it needs to change quickly,” said Shaw.
“We want to get in the Champions League and it’s not good enough. There’s no way we will get in the Champions League if we keep dropping points.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was recalled by Rangnick after being dropped to the bench for a disappointing 1-1 draw at bottom-of-the-table Burnley on Tuesday.
That followed a FA Cup exit to Championship side Middlesbrough on penalties after the scores were level at 1-1 after extra time.
Rangnick had to cope with more leaks in the press this week that the United players are unhappy with his coaching techniques.
But the focus of criticism is falling on an underperforming group of star players.
Ronaldo’s longest goal drought for 12 years stretched into a sixth game despite having chances he would expect to bury.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s best sight of goal came early on when he rounded Fraser Forster, but did not get enough power on his finish to beat Romain Perraud who cleared off the line.
Sancho was by a distance United’s best performer of the day and ended his long wait for a Premier League goal at Old Trafford since a £73 million ($99 million) move from Borussia Dortmund.
Bruno Fernandes’ pass freed Marcus Rashford down the right and his low cross was turned in at the back post by Sancho.
Southampton did United’s top four chances a favour by twice coming from behind to beat Tottenham 3-2 in midweek.
The Saints started slowly after their exertions on Wednesday but gave the hosts a few warnings before the break as David De Gea was forced into saves from Stuart Armstrong and Perraud.
United conceded just two minutes into the second half at Burnley and were caught cold again at the start of the second period when Mohamed Elyounoussi played in Adams, who coolly slotted in off the far post.
“We didn’t have a good first half — we were a little bit slow in the mind and in the legs,” said Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“When we started playing our football, we dominated the game.”
Hasenhuttl suffered the embarassment of a 9-0 defeat for the second time in the Premier League when Southampton visited Old Trafford last season.
But they could easily have secured a famous win 12 months on as twice Armstrong fired wide with good sights of goal before Diogo Dalot cleared Armando Broja’s effort off the line.
The visitors were also thankful to Forster just for a point, though, as he turned away Harry Maguire’s header low to his left.