Manchester United’s attempt at keeping steady a brilliant opening day momentum shattered away to Southampton with the Red Devils coming back from behind to salvage a lonely point in the 1-1 draw.
The first half saw the Saints go ahead via an unfortunate own-goal from Fred. Thereon, the momentum of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men fizzled away. In the second half, the play was much more fluid, with Mason Greenwood making the best out of a Bruno Fernandes-Paul Pogba linkup to score a clinical equalizer.
However, the resultant burst of attacking football did not materialize into much and the substitutions of Jadon Sancho, Jesse Lingard, and Scott McTominay likewise added little to the traveller’s hopes.
In the aftermath of the fixture, fans were keen on zeroing down on the poor state of United’s midfield to be the reason for the draw. Owing to a slight injury, Scott McTominay was unable to start the game, breaking the midfield partnership alongside Fred which was hailed to much acclaim last week.
While Nemanja Matic added a strong physical element to the game, his age slowed him down and the pivot was never fully in play for much of the fixture.
As such, fans were vocal about the biggest absence of depth that United currently suffer from in their roster. More than one supporter urged the Mancunian outfit to purchase a central midfielder in the days left in the summer transfer window.
The disasterclass from Matic and Fred as the pair shows United are never winning the league without buying a defensive midfielder. Two key early points dropped vs a prime relegation candidate. Awful day compared to last weekend. #mufc
— Hesham Bilal-Hafiz (@hesham786) August 22, 2021
Matic with a performance to underline where United’s next signing should be. So many mistakes.
Lingard an effort to win the game but probably too late. Win here essential for a team of title ambitions.#MUFC
— Laurie Whitwell (@lauriewhitwell) August 22, 2021
We are not winning the league with a rotation of Fred, McTominay, and Matic it’s as simple as that . Everyone knows it
— Misy (@Misy_utd) August 22, 2021
IMO reason McFred works together but not on their own is bc together they’re balanced — they can play as complete CM taking turns going up & down.
But lose one & our only backup is Matic who isn’t a b2b CM. Suddenly it’s a 6/8 dynamic with an immobile 6 — clearly unbalanced.
— ManUtdSense (@SensibleUtd) August 22, 2021
It cannot be denied that when it works, McTominay and Fred are a force to be reckoned with.
However, with Donny van de Beek yet to be given adequate space in which to make his mark as well as the absence of a staunch holding midfield specialist apart from Matic, Solskjær needs to think deep and tinker out a solution before it is too late.