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Match Report: Manchester United 0-1 Southampton

Not long ago, despite being distinctly under par, United secured a victory at Southampton by exploiting their hosts’ errors with clinical finishing. Here, they came up against a highly organised Saints side, marshalled by the brilliant Schneiderlin, that didn’t make those kind of errors and United’s finishing, when opportunities arose was woeful. Let’s be frank, this was a very poor performance from a United side that lacked the guile or creativity to shake the visitors’ out of their stride. In the event, Southampton were worthy winners.

You sense Ronald Koeman will be surprised this time at how straightforward it was. Keep it tight in midfield, preserving a clean sheet for as long as possible before going for it a bit more in the later stages and walking away with the points. You sense that, had they gone for it a bit earlier, they might not have needed to wait so long. In the 69th minute, Pelle, who hadn’t until then exploited the poor marking of him by Smalling, struck the post and the rebound fell to substitute Tadic, who converted unfussily.

Before then, United had enjoyed much of the possession but had, apart from occasional threats, struggled to do much with it. Pace was seldom evident and off-the-ball movement was strangely lacking. The balls that Carrick and Mata threaded through midfield were easily cut out by the visitors and Rooney and Di Maria both looked out of sorts, seldom able to drag Southampton’s defenders out of position although the latter had produced a couple of early off-targets effort that had suggested things might get better.

They didn’t. As the end of the first half approached, Di Maria passed up an opportunity when set free by Van Persie and there was an increasing element of danger in the visitors’ counter-attacks as the second half got underway. Only an excellent block from Pelle kept out a powerful shot from Pelle and, when that Tadic goal came, there was a certain numbness evident in Old Trafford, but little surprise.

United attempted to mix things up with the arrival of Fellain from the bench, with a number of high balls into the area. Those that weren’t off target were easily snuffed out by the Southampton defence. There were some close calls: Mata missed the target twice and Herrera headed wide. Had United possessed a more convincing threat in front of goal, they may well still have snatched a draw. Sadly, the attempts on goal had an air of increasing desperation about them.

Ultimately, there was more than a whiff of last season’s home setbacks about this defeat. United had found themselves up against well-organised opposition and were found wanting. It puts an end not only to their unbeaten run but also, you suspect, any thoughts that the Reds are ready to mount any kind of championship challenge.

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2 replies on “Match Report: Manchester United 0-1 Southampton”

Very well put but I would have to add a ticking off for the manager.It,s no good crying over spilt milk about team selection or players positions.There are no excuses it was an impotant performance.OK Southampton defended very well but United are really in need of new tactics.It looks more like a whole new team of players though before the philosophy gets changed.Booring football and not worth the money at all.

What a strange squad selection especially for a home game. Van Gaal plays with three centre-backs and has three more on the bench. Januzaj and Falcao don’t even make the squad. United’s best midfielder, Herrera only starts on the bench. The one striker on the bench is Wilson and he doesn’t get a look in, even when Van Persie and Di maria are subbed and United is chasing the game.

As for the performance, it was pedestrian,lacking in pace, penetration and creativity. Lots of possession but little idea what to do with it.

United lost at home without even having a shot on target. It was all rather Moyesian.

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