Rookie bosses struggle

Southampton's 1.99m Jannik Vestergaard towering above Manchester United's Victor Lindelof to equalise in their 1-1 draw at St Mary's Stadium yesterday. It was the defender's first goal for his club. PHOTO: REUTERS
Southampton's 1.99m Jannik Vestergaard towering above Manchester United's Victor Lindelof to equalise in their 1-1 draw at St Mary's Stadium yesterday. It was the defender's first goal for his club. PHOTO: REUTERS

Solskjaer defends display in United's worst start in 27 years

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Southampton 1

Manchester United 1


LONDON • A game that started so well for Manchester United ended in frustration, as they failed to break down 10-man Southampton in their 1-1 Premier League draw at St Mary's yesterday.

To say that the Red Devils are in crisis may be a little far-fetched, but the reality is they have not won since the opening day, when they thrashed Chelsea 4-0.

A thumping strike by Wales winger Daniel James gave United an early lead, but a controlled performance soon turned wayward after the break and defender Jannik Vestergaard seized on their vulnerability to head in his first goal for the Saints.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows it was again a bad day at the office and his attackers were simply not effective in closing out the game.

"We started off well, got the game exactly where we wanted it and, when that happens, we need to finish it off. We weren't clinical enough," the Norwegian lamented.

"The strange thing is that our performances in the last three games were better than the one against Chelsea. We've dominated but missed some great chances. It's not a dip in form, it's a dip in results."

He added of James, who has now scored three goals in his first four league matches: "Daniel has got a great strike in him; he's really made an impact for us and I'm delighted for the boy."

By the end Southampton, who had Kevin Danso sent off for a second yellow, were clinging on.

  • 11%

  •  Manchester United's win rate, with only one victory in their last nine Premier League matches.

A lively game turned into target practice for United, with 17-year-old Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young all taking aim from distance, but to no avail.

Solskjaer had acknowledged United are light on numbers going forward with the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan, increasing the onus on Marcus Rashford to deliver with Anthony Martial out injured.

The England striker's build-up play was clever, helping James pop off another shot on the edge of the box.

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But he should have also been on the scoresheet, yet made a pig's ear of a simple header from James' cross.

Rashford was relentless, his work rate admirable but, after easily eluding Vestergaard, he failed to beat goalkeeper Angus Gunn.

The visitors also remain vulnerable at the back and were exposed in the air twice in quick succession as Southampton equalised.

David de Gea made a brilliant save to prevent Danny Ings' header finding the far corner, but Danso was first to the rebound and, from his cross, the 1.99m Vestergaard towered above Victor Lindelof to head home.

With the draw, United have just five points from their opening four games after being held 1-1 at Wolves and suffering a shock 2-1 home loss to Crystal Palace last weekend.

It is their worst start since 1992-93, when they had four points.

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl was pleased, saying: "We had 10 men for the last 20 minutes. "It's an unbelievable performance mentally from my team and I can only raise my hat to them."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 01, 2019, with the headline 'Rookie Bosses Struggle '. Print Edition | Subscribe