Ralf Rangnick believes he knows why Manchester United are struggling in their bid to finish in the top four.
Don’t be shy, Ralf, enlighten us…
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After they drew 1-1 at home against Southampton on Saturday — United once again faded after a fast start and drew a game they should have won — Rangnick revealed what United most do to kick on and secure their spot in the top four.
Speaking to BBC, United’s interim head coach admitted that similar issues are cropping up for his team.
Deja-vu for Rangnick
“It was very similar to previous games unfortunately. It is the fourth game where we were ahead but took one point instead of three. It is difficult to take but we have to accept it,” Rangnick said
“It was a very good first half hour. I was pleased with our performance. We didn’t allow them too many chances, but they had transitional moments in the first half and then scored an early goal in the second. Then it was an open game; each team had chances. We had the clearer chances to win, but right now we are struggling to keep our composure and the structure for more than the first half.”
Four times in the last six games in all competitions United have been leading at half time then pegged back to draw against Aston Villa, Middlesbrough (FA Cup), Burnley and now Southampton.
xG stats, plus Hasenhuttl lays the boot in
Rangnick then brought up xG: “Today we had an xG of 2.57 to 0.57 for Southampton — It’s not a question of not creating chances, it’s a question of not being effective enough.”
Luke Shaw agreed and was pretty blunt as he added the following: “History is repeating itself again. We started really well the first 20 minutes, got the goal and it just happened again. We know it’s not good enough and it needs to change quickly,” Shaw said.
“If we take our chances early in the game it’s a different story. We know we need to get better. We can’t overthink it. We want to get in the Champions League and it’s not good enough and there’s no way we will get in Champions League if we keep dropping points. The most important thing at the moment is results. It’s about picking up the points and we need to be climbing the table.”
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, who had Rangnick as his mentor, was even blunter than Shaw when it came to United’s weaknesses.
“It is not a big secret that when they lose the ball that the reverse gears are not the best from everybody,” Hasenhuttl said.
Ouch. But they are all right, aren’t they?
Manchester United are creating chances but aren’t finishing them and although they have lost just once in 12 PL games since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was fired in November, they are lacking confidence, sharpness and commitment to the cause.
Ahead of a pivotal run of games in the Premier League and Champions League, United have to find that clinical edge if they’re going to be in the Champions League next season when whoever comes in permanently to take charge.