The Welshman netted a third goal in four games for the Reds but Southampton grabbed an equaliser to underline the incomplete nature of United’s squad
Daniel James provided another answer to those questioning the wisdom of Manchester Unitedcanning experience for youth with a wonderful goal against Southampton on Saturday.
But the visitors’ overall performance in the 1-1 draw at St Mary’s ensured that there will be plenty of cross-examinations to come for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his side, as they continue to show the growing pains of a team requiring further work.
Solskjaer’s rebuild was never going to be an overnight job, and while James made a further case for being considered the perfect replacement for Alexis Sanchez, doubts remain about a disjointed United’s ability to challenge for Champions League football during this extended transition.
Suddenly, James became the focal point of the whole game. Before his goal, he had had Juan Mata trying to coach him into a higher starting position which would allow United to feed him in behind the defensive line and stretch the play.
Once he had netted, it was as though it was all second nature to him. Twice more he would send in shots which would require Gunn making important saves, most notably from another ferocious effort which forced the keeper to beat the ball away.
United failed to make the most of the platform James had laid, though, and when they couldn’t seem to keep the ball for any significant period early in the second stanza it was clear a Southampton equaliser was coming.
Danny Ings tested David de Gea, and, when the keeper’s punch was returned into the box by Kevin Danso, Jannik Vertergaard outjumped Victor Lindelof to level the scores.
The Reds were offered a lifeline with a little over 15 minutes left when Danso made a rash challenge on McTominay to earn himself a second yellow card. But, in truth, they just couldn’t do enough to pick apart a well-organised Saints back-line – even with a one-man advantage.
Not that James wasn’t chief among those trying to drag United over the line. Again, the winger tested Gunn, while his pull-back following a blocked Marcus Rashford shot dribbled agonisingly out of the reach of any team-mates.
Full match highlights below
United has been tested in four consecutive games what would be their out come in this season ??