Manchester United’s inability to finish any of their countless chances was almost comical and costly in the end. Against Watford with one league win since November, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes were the main culprits, both of whom missed when it looked like it was easy to score.
about Watford One point is a welcome aid in their battle against relegation. In contrast, the draw was very frustrating for Ralf Rangnick given how much control United had. Their unbeaten streak extends to 11, but that should have been three precious points in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
At the final whistle, boos erupted around Old Trafford as the team’s fans vented their anger at United’s weakness.
We did everything except score. We had enough chances in both halves to win that match, but we didn’t, and not for the first time, we lost two points in a very important match,” Rangnick said.
Rangnick was pressed for why, exactly, United lack ruthlessness. “It’s hard to say,” he said. “Our job as coaches is to help the team create enough chances. If we only have two or three chances in a match we can ask ourselves what we can do to create more, but the number of clear chances we had should be enough to win a match like this.”
Ronaldo was the first to be included in the profile marked as ‘extravagance’, and pulled a trademark after bouncing effortlessly from Ben Foster’s right-hand position. Then, Fernandes hit a rebound and Anthony Elanga, selected ahead of Marcus Rashford, smashed over it.
Fernandez missed again at the end of a massive move. Ilanga received the ball from Nemanja Matic and fed Ronaldo’s back-heel kick to the young Swede. He passed to Fernandes but from close range the latter’s attempt was too close for Foster.
United was a red squadron over the Hornets. Alex Telles, who favored Luke Shaw, found Ronaldo who swept the house only to be judged offside. Watford couldn’t control the match and when Fernandes was heading towards the near post and was linked to Paul Pogba’s shot, they were meant to be behind but the United captain fired wide.
Ronaldo has been as mobile as he has been since his return to Old Trafford and after Aaron Wan‑Bissaka pushed the ball through his central striker around Foster and found Fernandes’ header who, once again, turned down the opportunity.
United’s warning came when Matic inadvertently passed to Ismail Sarr who recycled the ball to Emmanuel Denis but when Joshua King ran into Victor Lindelof and stopped his boots and United escaped.
Before kick-off, Rangnick and his players displayed a poster that read “peace” in several languages, and Watford joined them for a group photo, an idea proposed by the German.
Rangnick had excluded Harry Maguire, Shaw, Jadon Sancho and Rashford from Wednesday’s matches Draw in Atletico Madridciting that this was the third game in six days as the reason: an interesting move given his team’s constant stumble during their unbeaten run.
The win and the 63-year-old would be acquitted but by the start of the second half the competition was goalless. United are weak under the high ball as demonstrated when David de Gea missed out on Tom Cleverley’s corner and was fortunate to see the ball bounce wide to safety.
United’s response was a Matic chip for Pogba but all he could engineer was a cross-shot that went far. Impressive all along, Ilanga nearly broke the deadlock when he caught Pogba’s sweet flick but at close range his radar veered.
United kept taking turns missing him. Ronaldo couldn’t beat Foster from yards away, before Ilanga and Fernandez faced the same problem. Sancho, a substitute in the second half, was shaped from the inside and let fly but he missed.
In overtime, Sarr almost made a late shot but his 30-yard shot just sailed away.
Roy Hodgson said: “Their desire [his players] Show means we’re one point away from here.”
Next comes Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool’s next league role: a sequence that shows why this result could be even more important.
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