Manchester United’s worshipping of Cristiano Ronaldo backfires vs Southampton
The pattern was nearly identical on both sides. Manchester United led 1-0 at halftime, only to concede an equalizer soon after the restart. It happened in the 47th minute against Burnley. The 48th game was against Southampton.
Since Southampton was thrashed 9-0 on the same pitch a year and ten days ago, a lot has changed. Crowds have returned at the price of deceptive training ground atmospheres, and United’s players’ mindset has withered as the playing field has been leveled and pressure increased. They’ve been exposed, and the penalty might be expulsion from the Champions League.
An temporary manager will not be able to instill in these United players anything approximating a winning mindset, let alone one that is acceptable. As the clock approached the 90th minute, Ralf Rangnick ran onto the pitch to kick the ball back, doing everything he could to excite the players.
The fourth official was yelled at by Darren Fletcher for the brazen time-wasting, and there was the rare rebellious roar from fans used to late finishes. In the dying embers, Harry Maguire landed a free header well within Fraser Forster’s reach. This insured that many fans would boo at the end of the game.
Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford, Sancho, and Ronaldo were among United’s attacking sextet. The Old Trafford roof did not leak during the days when the opposition was beaten in the tunnel. The Hampshire mobs exclaimed, “Who the f—k are Man United?” Southampton deserved to win.
Many people walking along the drizzly Warwick Road expected Southampton, who normally show up at United bar last year’s outlier, to return with a win. After Che Adams arrowed in the equaliser, Southampton had no intention of defending a point and were the more likely team for much of the second half.
In the 80th minute, the Stretford Enders yelled, “Attack, attack, attack!” The most of the attacking took place in the Scoreboard End, when Maguire twice gambled his life against Armando Broja.
United’s problem was once again the attack. They deified Cristiano Ronaldo in the program for scoring’siiiu many goals’ – a reference to his celebration – when he was having his longest goalscoring slump since his last stint at United. It’s gotten considerably worse.
Ronaldo wasted an easy goal inside the opening five minutes and it was all downhill from there. He was flagged many times for being offside and immobile. The garment is hefty for United players, and it gets more heavier when it rains. Ronaldo seemed to be on the verge of collapsing.
With Edinson Cavani’s contract expiring in June, United plan to sign a younger centre forward in the summer. It would have been better to insert Cavani for Ronaldo if he had been on the bench.
Cavani, on the other hand, cannot be relied upon at this time of year due to the continuous rain. The Uruguayan was with the rest of the squad at The Lowry Hotel on Friday night, but declared himself unfit on Saturday morning. Cavani, who was born on Valentine’s Day, began to wilt like a bouquet of roses in February of last year.
During a half-hour break, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes had a nice talk before Pogba moved away and was calmed down by Raphael Varane. In retrospect, it was during that timeout that Southampton began to establish themselves, and they finished the first half on a high note. Less than three minutes after the restart, United failed to heed the warning, and Adams finished neatly.
The rivalry between colleagues continued into the final minute, with the demanding Fernandes enraged at a free-kick by Varane. At the final shriek, supporters were never going to be able to restore the balance.
The strong performances of Jadon Sancho have been a recurring theme in United’s previous fixtures, and his upward trend has at least persisted during the Christmas break. He got off to such a threatening start that Southampton’s analysts had to rewind the play on their laptops to figure out how to stop him. They couldn’t find a solution.
Sancho had created the majority of the chances in the first 20 minutes, and now it was someone else’s turn, with Sancho running parallel to Marcus Rashford so he could tap in at the far post. Sancho could be one bright spot in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s otherwise bleak legacy.
Sancho was sprinting into the Southampton area again within moments of the analysts scrolling through the film, but this time he ignored the unattended Ronaldo and Sancho, much to their disgust. That was just a blip, and in the end, Sancho was United’s most dependable attacker.
The drab atmosphere leading up to kick-off was a result of the early start as well as widespread disinterest among the fans. Perhaps Diogo Dalot, a player who has developed a strong bond with the crowd, sensed it.
He was the first player to break away from the line-up and sprint towards the Stretford End supporters, who he applauded and cajoled. When Sancho struck, he got the intended reaction, and the crowd was significantly elevated. United then went backwards, and the process persisted.