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EPL: Man Utd held by Southampton as Ronaldo drought goes on

Is there anything more inevitable in football right now than Manchester United throwing away three points in the second half having controlled proceedings in the first?

Ralf Rangnick thought his team had found a way of avoiding the mistakes made against Middlesbrough and Burnley but they were at it again at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Just as they had at Turf Moor, United began brightly against Southampton, with Paul Pogba showing the sort of form that makes fans wonder why they haven’t seen him shine every week since he returned to the club in 2016.

The France international dominated midfield and reminded everyone of his undoubted class with one special pass that released Marcus Rashford into space.

Even more promisingly, Jadon Sancho turned in another positive performance, bagging his second goal in three performances – as many as he had managed in his previous 23 appearances.

There has been little to shout about from a United perspective in recent weeks but Sancho’s displays since the break have been hugely encouraging.

His 21st-minute tap-in looked like it would be one of many goals for the hosts, with United looking especially dangerous on the counterattack.

However, you know how this story ends. You probably knew even before kick-off.

United had taken the lead in their previous six games and managed to win only three. So, there was a depressing air of inevitability about Southampton coming back to claim a deserved 1-1 draw.

Rangnick denies there is a mentality issue at play here, but sports psychologist Sascha Lense has his job cut out based on recent results and performances, because as soon as there is a setback, this group doesn’t seem to be able to react positively.

United should have still been buzzing after an excellent first half at Burnley yet they conceded two minutes after the restart.

They lasted only 60 seconds longer against Southampton, who drew level courtesy of a fine finish by Che Adams.

However, it proved all too easy for the visitors to get through United’s backline.

Indeed, a home side clearly lacking in confidence were lucky they didn’t concede again, with Armando Broja and Stuart Armstrong causing all sorts of problems up front.

United had issues at the other end of the pitch, too.

Ronaldo was back in the starting XI with Edinson Cavani sidelined with a groin problem but the Portuguese again cut a frustrated figure.

He was lucky to last 90 minutes as he offered little off the ball, struggled to trouble the Southampton defence and his lack of pace meant he wasn’t as effective as some of United’s substitutes might have been.

It is now six games without a goal for Ronaldo, which is his longest drought in club football since 2009.

Rangnick cannot be blamed for his players not taking their chances but they have averaged fewer goals per game under the German (1.4) than they have under any other manager in Premier League history.

This Manchester United side really is plagued by problems all over the park.

And there is little time to regroup either, with Brighton set to arrive at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening for what could be another trying game.

Indeed, given the way the last 10 days have gone for United, you can almost guarantee how that one is going to play out.

Source: Goal

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