Manchester United reaction to latest setback shows why this team are struggling

Manchester United reaction to latest setback shows why this team are struggling

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With just under 20 minutes remaining, Cristiano Ronaldo felt he had restored Manchester United’s lead against Southampton when he converted Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick.

When the linesman’s flag went up, his jubilation were cut short following another dismal afternoon in front of goal, but Ronaldo and Fernandes couldn’t believe it. They both screamed angrily at referee Stuart Atwell, who listened intently through his earpiece to VAR Jarred Gillett.

The rage of Ronaldo and Fernandes created the idea that this was a close call, but the playback proved otherwise. When Southampton merely held a line rather than racing out, Ronaldo was one of six United players who were offside from the free-kick. Even if Jadon Sancho got a flip on the ball first, Ronaldo was several yards offside at the time.

United’s Portuguese duo waved their arms violently as Atwell promptly confirmed the offside judgment. Who knows what they might have been whining about.

Southampton caught United offside frequently, including one horribly timed Ronaldo run in the first half, but this was the most egregious example of a squad that simply does not pay attention to the details. It’s a disgrace to have more than half your squad caught offside from the same free-kick. It’s about as fundamental as mistakes get.

This is a talented squad, but the Premier League has rarely been less than the sum of its parts. The reason for this is the kind of disobedience to the most fundamental of principles that may result in six players running beyond the defensive line at a free kick.

After that event, Atwell’s officiating became ragged, and United were enraged by several of his rulings, but the players spent much too much time and energy arguing with him rather than concentrating on how to find a winner.

United has now scored first in seven consecutive games. For the fourth time in a row, they were unable to win the game. To call Manchester United brittle right now would be an understatement.

This was the third game in a row that had followed a nearly identical pattern. United dominated the first half, but squandered chances and then went into hiding. When the equaliser came, they were at a loss for words.

Worst of all, United has squandered winning positions against clubs they should have beaten. After conceding first, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Burnley, and now Southampton have all found a way back into the game. When they have the upper hand against teams of that caliber, United should go for broke instead of wilting.

However, the reality for United currently is that no one wants to play against them. In fact, teams are looking forward to it since they know they may easily bloody their noses.

Sascha Lense, a sports psychologist, was one of Rangnick’s first appointments, but he’ll have his work cut out for him with this group. Individually, some players have recovered their confidence, but this team’s mentality is frail, and if Villa, Middlesbrough, Burnley, and Southampton can exploit it, Atletico Madrid’s nostrils must already be twitching. They have the ability to detect blood.

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