By Frank Kamuntu
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Manchester United need to be more clinical in attack after they were held to 1-1 draw with Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.
United failed to win for a third consecutive Premier League game as Daniel James’ early opener was cancelled out by Jannick Vestergaard’s towering header, with Solskjaer’s side unable to find a winner despite Kevin Danso’s 73rd-minute sending off.
James, Marcus Rashford, Ashley Young and substitute Mason Greenwood all went close in the closing stages, but Saints held firm thanks to a combination of good goalkeeping from Angus Gunn and wasteful finishing from the visitors.
“We had just got the game where we wanted,” said Solskajer. “We were winning 1-0, that’s when you can get that counter-attack in football.
“We need to be more clinical, ruthless, when we go forward, but it wasn’t to be. We just gave them enough encouragement to stay in the game.
“I don’t know how many shots we’ve had today and in the last game against Palace, but it’s a matter of taking those chances. That’s what football is all about, getting it inside the posts but we’ll get there. We’re working on it” he added.
United have won just two of their last 13 games in all competitions under Solskjaer, but he insists he is seeing signs of progress from his young side as they adapt to a different playing style with an emphasis on counter-attacking.
“We have dominated the last three games and we know that we are on the right track, getting used to that way of playing,” he said.
“The last three games haven’t given us many points in return, but we’re getting there. We’re getting better and better at playing this way and we’ve got to get used to it. It’s a young team that will get used to it.”
James’ goal scoring performance was a bright spot on another disappointing day for United.
The 21-year-old has scored three goals in his first four appearances for the club and Solskjaer is delighted with his impact.
“He has come in and made an impact ever since day one in training, I think he is an example to everyone in football. He had his period on loan and didn’t get games, but now he’s scoring goals and he’s our top scorer. That comes through his personality, his habits. He’s humble, he works hard, and he knows he can improve. Today, he knows he could have scored one or two more, he said.
“We’ll work with him. We’ll work to get his quality even higher, even better, and then we’ll have a top, top player on our hands.”
Solskjaer also came to the defence of Victor Lindelof. The Swede was deemed to be at fault for Crystal Palace’s opening goal at Old Trafford last weekend and he was beaten in the air again for Vestergaard’s equaliser at St Mary’s.
“As a centre-back, once in a while you do lose a header and sometimes it’s just in those patches where it costs the team,” said Solskjaer.
Last week, he lost one header, that was a flick-on and they scored. Today, he lost a header and it became a goal. You don’t expect your centre-back to win every single one.
“We should have done better and stopped the cross, but those were the 10 seconds that they created something. Apart from that, I thought Victor did well.”
Solskjaer also confirmed that Paul Pogba had twisted his ankle but insisted there is no chance of the Frenchman leaving Old Trafford for Real Madrid before Monday’s European transfer deadline.