One other painful draw for Manchester United, one other instance of how poor ending price the Crimson Devils two factors and one other embarrassing show of naïve defending by Ralf Rangnick’s males.
Rangnick’s post-match remark that with an anticipated targets ratio of two.53 vs. 0.71, United ought to have gained the sport just isn’t with out advantage, however his pre-match defence of Harry Maguire’s current performances don’t get up so properly to scrutiny.
While Southampton’s aim admittedly got here from the suitable facet of United’s defence, the place Raphael Varane lunged in for a sort out and Diogo Dalot was caught out of place, in reality the house workforce’s again line was as soon as once more lower to shreds in transitional conditions.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl put it merely after the sport (by way of The Athletic):
‘It’s no massive secret that after they lose the ball their reverse gear just isn’t all the time the most effective from all people,’ he defined.
‘The longer the sport was going, the extra you’re chipping them within the first line after which you’ll be able to play over this primary line after which you’ve gotten area.
‘You then have the possibility to create one thing and that is what we did.’
United followers have seen this all too continuously. Fixing it could not appear to be rocket science.
There may be one obviously apparent flaw in United’s defensive organisation, and that’s, should you push up with a excessive line – as United typically do – then you definitely want a minimum of one among two issues.
First, quick defenders are wanted, who can get well shortly when possession is misplaced and the opponent ‘performs over this primary line’ as Hasenhuttl put it. They want to have the ability to flip shortly, speed up shortly and run shortly.
As many are eager to level out, Harry Maguire possesses not one of the above attributes.
The choice, though ideally you’d have each, is for the keeper to be alert to the counter assault and function as a sweeper keeper.
Regardless of being a world-class shot stopper, David de Gea just isn’t and by no means might be that kind of keeper.
A take a look at some stats from sofascore.com highlights this level. This season, De Gea has accomplished three sweeper actions, the bottom of all first selection keepers within the league. Examine this to the likes of Sa, Lloris, Alisson and Mendy, with 21, 17,16 and 15 every. That’s an additional 12-18 occasions this season that their groups’ defensive strains had been penetrated with out consequence.
That is the maths: a keeper who stays on his line + a excessive again line + sluggish defenders = straightforward targets for the opposition.
So what’s the answer?
Even if De Gea’s understudy, Dean Henderson, is a really adept sweeper-keeper, dropping the Spaniard only for that motive when he’s in such scintillating kind is clearly not an choice.
Dropping Maguire is an choice. His logical substitute, Victor Lindelof, is faster however is hardly Usain Bolt both, although, so it would solely be a partial answer to the issue.
A barely decrease line can also be wanted.
There are additionally disciplinary points alongside the road that make issues worse. Maguire likes to step ahead out of the road each in possession, to drive the ball ahead, and generally out of possession, in aggressive makes an attempt to chop off an assault at its supply. Each expose the remainder of the road if unsuccessful.
That is the place Lindelof is a greater choice as a result of he has a superb passing vary from deep and doesn’t have to take the ball ahead himself to progress the assault. Form and that compact line ought to subsequently be simpler to take care of.
Ralf Rangnick should concentrate on these primary points and presumably has given the workforce directions to resolve them with out recourse to any of those primary fixes. His gamers, clearly, have been unable to implement no matter these directions had been.
This would appear to depart the supervisor with little choice however to sacrifice Maguire, a minimum of till a restructuring can happen to discover a extra everlasting answer to the issue.