After seeing both Chelsea and Leicester slip-up over the weekend, Manchester United had the perfect opportunity to take advantage of their rivals’ defeats by beating Southampton on Monday night.
And having gone 2-1 up in the first-half, everything seemed to be on course for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to take all three points. But, deep into injury-time, Michael Obafemi pounced on a flick-on from a corner and dented United’s hopes of a top-four finish this season.
Solskjaer had named the same starting line-up for the fifth game running and for the first time in 27 years, and considering the superb form they have been in, that was no real surprise.
But Mason Greenwood’s struggled in particular on the right-hand side, proved exactly why Ed Woodward surely needs to bring in Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho this summer.
Greenwood has been in superb form for the Red Devils since the Premier League’s restart, racking up four goals and an assist in six games. But against Southampton, he just didn’t seem to have the guile or creativity to either make his own chances or more importantly, provide for his teammates.
As per Sofascore, he made just 18 total passes, provided no key passes or accurate crosses, and had just 27 touches of the ball in the time that he was on the pitch.
Greenwood also couldn’t find a way to at least get a shot off in anger, making no attempts on goal, and dribbling just the once. It was rather telling that in the last couple of days, United icon Gary Neville hinted that the starlet’s future could be through the middle.
He said: “I think Greenwood will develop into a central striker naturally over time. There will come a time when he will step up, he’s stepping up game by game now. He is outstanding, his talent is incredible. He has everything, the composure, the receiving of the ball, the awareness, the finishing ability.”
If Greenwood is seen as someone more suited to being a number nine by coaches in and around the club too, then it makes it all the more important that United go out and splash the cash on Sancho to fill up that right-wing spot.
Sancho’s name has been linked with United for a number of months, and has proven week-in and week-out for Dortmund that he is one of the most exciting wingers in the world, providing a remarkable 20 assists across all competitions.
Bringing the £105.3m-rated Sancho in would allow Greenwood to transition into more of a striker, whilst also ensuring that United have a bona-fide star out wide.