It feels like Manchester United add a new problem to the pile with every passing day and the 1-1 draw with Southampton hardly suggested they’re on the verge of turning a corner.
It’s amazing to think that expectations at the start of the season were so high. It was hoped United would be challenging for the title alongside the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. It didn’t take long for us to realize how wrong we were.
United are currently fifth in the table, out of the Carabao Cup, out of the FA Cup and only through to the last 16 of the Champions League courtesy of some very late Cristiano Ronaldo goals.
The hope that Ralf Rangnick would be drafted into Old Trafford and fix all of the club’s problems in the space of less than a year is now looking to be as foolish as the hope United would be challenging for the title this season.
A lot of the problems have been there for years and it’s going to take more than one man to sort them out.
We all knew that we were spoiled by the amount of silverware Sir Alex Ferguson delivered in his glittering Old Trafford reign, but no one could have foreseen the problems that have snowballed since his 2013 departure.
One of the most prevalent worries is the team’s mentality. United were renowned for their ability to keep going and score late goals during Ferguson’s tenure, but those days are long gone.
Visiting sides don’t seem to arrive at Old Trafford with fear in their eyes anymore. They know a trip to the red side of Manchester is a chance to pick up a draw or victory. Times have changed and Southampton proved just that on Saturday afternoon.
United have failed to win more than two consecutive games in all competitions this season, a remarkable feat considering the money that’s been spent assembling the squad.
They’ve dropped points against four of the bottom five teams in the Premier League table and seven out of the 10 sides in the bottom half.
Failing to beat so-called ‘lesser’ sides was a problem that haunted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. While United ended up finishing third in 2019/20, they struggled before the mid-season signing of Bruno Fernandes and kept dropping points against teams who weren’t considered top-four sides. This has become a theme of the post-Ferguson era.
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Given the quality of United’s squad, the only possible explanation is the team’s mentality. You can’t afford to take it easy in any Premier League outing and it seems United’s players haven’t quite realized this yet.
Signing new players and adding quality and depth is all well and good, but altering the mentality of a squad is a whole different ball game.
Hopefully Rangnick is already looking to address the issue, because if it’s not fixed then United aren’t going to be challenging for silverware anytime soon.
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