Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side are lacking a clinical touch in front of goal after they were held 1-1 by 10-man Southampton at St. Mary’s on Saturday.
United have now dropped points for the third time in the first four Premier League games of the campaign and have won just one of their last 10 matches stretching back to the end of last season.
Daniel James’s fine start to his United career continued with his third goal in four games to give the visitors an early lead.
But despite spending £130 million ($158 million) on improving their defence with the signings of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, United are still susceptible at the back and Jannik Vestergaard powered home Southampton’s equaliser after half-time.
The hosts then had Kevin Danso sent-off for a second bookable offence, but United could not make the extra man count despite relentless late pressure.
“We started off well, got the game exactly where we wanted and that’s when you need to finish the game off and score the second and the third,” said Solskjaer.
“There are so many spaces on the pitch because they have to press and we weren’t clinical enough, we create loads of chances and the last bit is missing.”
Solskjaer insisted on Friday he is happy to rely on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to carry the goalscoring burden this season with no replacement signed for the departed Romelu Lukaku or Alexis Sanchez, who have both joined Inter Milan.
With Martial sidelined by a thigh injury, there was even more responsibility on Rashford’s shoulders, but it was James who impressed most to again show signs his £15 million move from Swansea will be a bargain.
The Welsh winger was allowed too much room by the Saints defence to cut inside onto his favoured right foot and rifled a shot into the top corner.
However, Solskjaer’s men failed to build on that advantage, with Rashford guilty of two missed chances before Southampton levelled just before the hour mark.
Just like for the opening goal in last weekend’s shock 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace, Victor Lindelof was too easily beaten in the air as Vestergaard powered home his first goal for Southampton from Danso’s cross.
Danso almost undid his good work, 17 minutes from time recklessly diving in on Scott McTominay to earn a second yellow card and give United the upper hand in the closing stages.
The lack of striking options available to Solskjaer saw him turn to 17-year-old Mason Greenwood in the search for a winner and he nearly provided it for his first Premier League goal as Angus Gunn made a flying save to his right.
But Southampton held out to leave United with just five points from their opening four games to sap the optimism from a convincing 4-0 win over Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season.
“The strange thing about it is the three other games that we haven’t won were better than the Chelsea one,” added Solskjaer.
“The Chelsea one is the game that they pressed us, pushed us back and we counter-attacked. The other three we’ve been dominating, creating chances and just haven’t been clinical in front of goal to win the games.
“We missed penalties, missed chances and should have won today as well. It’s not a dip in form, (but) it’s a dip in results definitely.”
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