United 1-1 Southampton: Saints punish United for not scoring a second

Author: Doron

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As the international break with England’s success and jokes of poor taste were left in the past, Premier League football returned. Southampton came to Old Trafford in fine form and frame of mind but there was a feel-good factor at United after Januzaj’s double at Sunderland and subsequent new five year contract announced a few hours before kick-off. Moyes made two changes from that game as Vidic was replaced by Evans (presumably with the Champions League in mind) and Fellaini replaced the injured Cleverley. Southampton also made two changes to their side with Shaw and Rodriguez replacing Fox and Lambert. We welcome comments from both sets of fans.

The first hour

Reading this knowing the score means you’ve probably already got a settled opinion on yesterday’s game. Chances are that because United dropped points that opinion is one of yet more doom – that we were dominated and it was our ‘worst-performance-ever™’. Being the optimist (or attempted realist) that I am, I don’t quite feel that way, unsurprisingly.

Match stats will suggest that Southampton had more shots, more possession and attempted more passes than United. On paper it might seem that United were second best but for long chunks United were both in control and assured. The movement of the forward players, particularly Nani and Januzaj was unpredictable and a Southampton side that boasted a stupidly impressive defensive record found their back-line breached on quite a few occasions.

Nani in particular was getting things right. He was picking his moments to cut inside at the correct times; balancing out the tricks with the right moments to pass; and tellingly, making a key defensive contribution – winning every tackle he attempted, all of them inside our own half. The style of play, speed of play, movement and chances created were all much better and all that was needed was the second goal…

When momentum changed and the inevitable happened

Unfortunately for David Moyes, it was his first substitution that really started to change the feel of the game. The idea of bringing Giggs on seemed fine – he hadn’t played since the last 25 minutes in Donetsk two and a half weeks ago so would be fresh and might be able to help get the second goal with an attacking contribution and some know-how. That he replaced Nani was strange though. As already noted, Nani had been playing well and didn’t seem to be showing any signs of fatigue. He’d constantly wanted the ball and was making things happen when he had it. By contrast, Januzaj had started to look a bit leggy, as he had done at Sunderland. He’d not quite managed to have the same impact as he had in that game particularly as both Southampton fullbacks had pressed him tight knowing they had the beating of him for pace. He’d also taken his fair share of whacks, fouled on 6 occasions (and every time got up without a complaint). His pass that created the opening goal was yet another sign of his incredible talent and although he was by no means sub-standard, if one of the wingers was to be withdrawn it should have been him.

Bizarrely Giggs came on and moved to the right hand side with Januzaj going out to the left where he’d started the game. Suddenly the feel of the game started to change. Maybe content that Southampton, who’d only really had half chances (even if in abundance), weren’t going to come close to scoring, players seemed to move down a gear. Evra suddenly decided tracking back wasn’t for him; Rooney wanted to try and beat players in his own half; Fellaini became increasingly casual in possession and others followed suit.

All of a sudden Carrick was alone in the middle – Giggs was now meant to be there with Welbeck replacing Fellaini but his attempts to get back and help were laboured despite still being fresh in the game. By the time 80 minutes were up, United still hadn’t got a second goal and Southampton suddenly had hope – they had something to play for… they might as well throw men forward and lose 2-0 than not try to take any risks with the game still up for grabs. Pochettino recognised this and replaced a defensive minded midfielder with an attack minded one as Do Prado came on for Wanyama.

To his credit, Moyes recognised there was an issue in the middle as momentum swung in Southampton’s favour and he replaced Rooney, who’d been poor, with Smalling, pushing Jones into the middle. The change didn’t disrupt the United backline as Smalling immediately made a crucial clearance to deny Southampton a chance.

However the inevitable happened. And you could see it coming. Not because Southampton had been pummelling United’s goal or out-playing United, because they hadn’t. But because United had missed good chances: hit the bar twice; had a goal ruled out for offside; had another couple of tight offside calls; had been denied a very obvious free kick on the edge of the box; Boruc had made a couple of fine saves; and one too many of those low crosses that go along the six yard box had been missed by everyone. That United couldn’t get that second goal gave Southampton hope and when Shaw was told to reposition the ball at a corner on 88 minutes and then moved it again once the referee had turned (much to the annoyance of a very vocal 70+ thousand people) you just knew they were going to score.

On one hand, fair play to Southampton, they’d done ok and had some individuals who’d performed particularly well. On the other, it felt like a massive kick in the testes/ovaries as this just shouldn’t have happened. This wasn’t a West Brom or Crystal Palace at home performance, this had been better. Where blame lies is ultimately debatable: the players who didn’t take the chances? Moyes for his initial substitution? Or the defending from the corner – allowing the ball to be flicked on to hit Lovren despite the fact there were 9 United players in the six yard box at that moment?

A shining beacon of hope: Jonny Evans

Understandably, Moyes had gone into the season placing faith in Ferdinand and Vidic. Whilst fanboys moaned that Kagawa wasn’t in the team, Evans, arguably our best centre back for the last two years also couldn’t get a look in. With Ferdinand injured and Vidic preserved, Evans made just his second league start of the season and excelled.

Off the ball he was excellent, martialling the rest of the defenders and constantly shouting and pointing in an animated fashion at where he wanted those around him to be. At a young age he’d been earmarked as the kind of player who’d make a good captain and it remains obvious that leadership qualities come naturally to him and don’t impact his performance negatively as if a burden.

When called into duty on the ball he was more than comfortable, showing quick feet and speed of thought on numerous occasions to help get United out of a tricky situation as Southampton pressed high. He even took it into his own hands to inject some momentum into the game as he went on a few surging runs, carrying the ball out from the defence deep into the Southampton half. His partnership with Jones looks like one worth persevering with and it’ll be down to Smalling to deliver equally high levels of performances when he next gets a chance at centre back.


Whilst good sportsmanship, it was strange to see both tiers of the Stretford End clapping off the Southampton players as they celebrated their 1-1 draw. Maybe it’s a sign that we’re just all getting a bit too darn soft at the moment and we should all be a bit like Rafael was at full time, evidently distraught and angry. Still, they’ll be delighted with a point whilst for us, it’s yet more frustration particularly as a win was so close and so deserved.

Van Persie’s well-finished goal, was our first in open play at Old Trafford this season in the league and it’s already gone mid-October. That we’re only averaging a goal a game at home is a concern and it’s very much a mixture of poor finishing and not enough chances created. Teams are playing against us and rather than being firmly beaten, they’re being given encouragement as games are so tight and we still seem to have an error in our play somewhere each game.

If there’s an overriding emotion right now with regards to David Moyes then for me it’s sympathy. Everything he tries seems to go wrong, he’s desperately low on luck with so many games and key moments being settled on fine margins that could go his way as easily as they’ve gone against him. His substitutions yesterday could have been better but they really weren’t that bad and yet he’s getting slated by some for trying to preserve a win with little time left. Maybe that’s not the ‘United way’ but imagine if he’d gone in search of a second goal that late on and we’d been hit on the break – he’d have been criticised for not protecting what we had. Right now he can’t win but he badly needs his players to start to play for him because too many seem to be coasting along – they should be making a huge effort for him whilst he settles in and learns because right now they’re letting him down.

Europe could again be his saviour in midweek with two good performances in that competition so far. (Ironic given that many worried about his ability to manage in the Champions League more than anything else.) A win against Sociedad should hopefully set things up nicely for Stoke, the league’s lowest scorers. What could possibly go wrong…?

15 Comments on United 1-1 Southampton: Saints punish United for not scoring a second

  1. Moyes ruined the game with his stupid mid table mentality. However, the biggest problem is the players aren’t good enough to play for Manchester United. Danny welbeck is actually a joke. All he had to do is pass to Rooney and its a guaranteed goal, but as usual he bottled it in an attacking position and then all he does is smile. This guy is such a bottler in the final third it’s unbelievable. We won’t win another trophy until we replace the terrible players we have with world class players. We make minimal chances and make any old team look like brazil. Of all the players we have the only ones good enough to play for united are van Persie, Rooney and de gea. Everyone else simply isn’t good enough. And when 8 players from your starting 11 contribute nothing and are just passengers, you don’t play well and you don’t get results. Problem is nobody is going to want to play for an unknown manager that seems to be ruining the club. We will be a cup team soon enough if this doesn’t change in the summer.

  2. Gutted we couldnt come away with the 3 points. Kept saying to my mates while watching the game that we needed a 2nd but…
    In fairness – a decent summary and analysis of events yeaterday. But you’ve failed to report on a key issue that needs to be addressed. playing carrick and fellaini together in central midfield. It doesnt work as we saw yesterday. Both players quite similar it can be said. The main problem is our midfield is just too bloody slow. There’s no pace whatsoever coming from the middle of the park. Fellaini was poor yet again.it seemed like he was playing in slow motion half the time! Wtf!? Def hasnt made the best of starts but like moyes ill continue to back him and get behind the lad. Get him involved in a 3 man midfield and with a bit more freedom to roam and he’ll be sweet. Either cleverley or kagawa. Actaully thought we missed cleverley a bit yesterday…im not the biggest tc23 fan to be honest but we missed his energy and free flowing football I must say.

    Hating seeing the likes of shinji and wilfried wasting away on the bench! Hernandez as well. Can see chicha and kahawa wanting out in jan and who can blame them. Dont know what moyes is thinking…
    Zaha looked terrific in pre season. Got games. Was a constant threat.theres no way hed be out of place in this team and he def do a decent job for us im very convinced of that. Its just strange he cant get a look in. Very disappointing. Same can be said for kagawa. What a waste

    Must say, I thought rafael had a very poor game by his standards. That was not the rafael we know playing yesterday. The lad needs games and hopefully he’ll improve as the season goes.

    Rooney – poor and wasteful. Also not good enough.

    Evras delivery – poor. Can see why moyes wanted baines so badly. His assist for wazzas england goal the other night was a peach.

    Hope the lads can regroup quickly because wednesdays fast approaching and its another massive must win game ! Come on lads!

    Tactics yet again questionable especially substitutions. Why bring giggs on for nani when the lad was doin alright??
    Welbeck clumsy yet again. Jones was ball watching for the goal. So were a few others. Poor way to concede and so late.

  3. Max @ 12:43: ” a key issue that needs to be addressed. playing carrick and fellaini together in central midfield. It doesnt work as we saw yesterday.”


    I’m actually a bit more agitated about this. Right now, the “spine” of the team is out-of-whack. A visit to the chiropractor is called for.

    First, you’re right about the sameness of the MC16/TheBigFella. Second, they’re both too slow and laboured – Carrick can be excused for those traits in some matches when caution is the watchword but by no means in a must-win, home game.

    So, what to do ? Here’s where the “panic alert” comes – I’d make a significant change and deploy neither Carrick/Fellaini in the next home EPL match v. Stoke. In their place, I’d bite-the-bullet and put TheWayneBoy and MrJones in midfield.

    I’m not keen on Moyes’ willingness to accommodate TheWayneBoy’s entitlement-demands. SAF was right about that. He’s a gamer so he might not like playing in TheScholesRole but he’ll do it. He’s been good on free-kicks but has he scored from open play for UTD this season ? Has he assisted on any goals from open play this season ? (you can hardly consider the rebound from his failed attempt which led to RVP’s goal yesterday to be an assist !)

    As for MrJones, I think he’s behind both Jonny Evans and BigManSmalling in the next-generation central defence BUT he’s also too good a footballer to keep in reserve. Like Rooney, MrJones has most of the attributes of a powerful, dynamic midfielder even if he doesn’t want to take on that challenge.

    Based on what I’ve seen since he was transferred to UTD, MrJones is not a very good defender – he’s too excitable and his positioning is often just terrible. On the Southampton goal, for example, he first put himself in Evans’ path which had the double-whammy of “picking” Evans and letting Lalanna get free. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then completely whiffed on the clearance. To me, that was just one more instance – as in the Sunderland match when he failed to clear the ball which put CaptainVIdic in trouble and shit-happened. Both Smalling and Evans are more assured when under pressure.

    David Moyes is a cautious manager and he’s allowed the veterans – and squad dies – enough rope to let them hang themselves. What’s disappointing is that so many – Rio, Giggs, FatBoyAndo, ButtNuts, AV25, and, of course, AshleyBloodyYoung have shown themselves to be NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Some others – YoungTom and DannyTheLad, in particular – might never be “good enough” while several guys have either been played out-of-position or else not given a chance (like KagawaBunga and Chicharito). Add to those issues, the creeping age of Carrick, Vidic, and Evra and there’s a lot of change that needs to be taken-onboard.

    I’m not sure that it’s fair to say that SAF bequeathed a poisoned chalice to Moyes but there’s no question that the current squad is like the proverbial curate’s egg – “good-in-parts”. I started out the season relatively optimistic but now my fear is that Moyes’ caution will get the better of him – he needs to follow the younger SAF’s example and make quite a few tough decisions.

  4. The truth is Moyes is out of his depth at MUFC and he knows it, and he doesn’t do himself any favors by second guessing himself! He called this crop of players champions and later said he needed world champions after our thrashing! People will point to the fact that Everton were an average team and he managed them just fine, but it’s no hidden fact that this present crop of United players are largely average. If he performed magic with EFC, what’s holding him back from doing the same at MUFC? FYI EFC are playing a world better than they did under Moyes. His countenance on the sideline do not even bode well for the team, the game against City showed him cowering like a chicken in the rain and that’s the figure the players are supposed to draw inspiration from?! Agreed the crop of players that were fielded yesterday could have won any match especially that one, but you could see they were all running below steam and it is the manager’s responsibility to boost the players’ confidence. Tough ask for Moyes. Moyes shot himself in the foot with his useless substitutions. His substitutions were cowardly to say the least and that’s just not a trait a manager should portray. I say shove him off, Giggs will do a better job.

  5. The truth of the matter is that this match was very much like the same fixture last season. Southampton have improved and United haven’t; but I can’t believe how much the table flattered a fragile-looking United side last year.

    Rooney was offside for the goal, but the bed-wetters suggesting Saints bossed the game from start to finish are off the mark…

  6. Moyes is certainly not beyond criticism, but to be fair to him, he couldn’t have predicted the drop in form of so many of our good players, beginning with Rio and Vidic.
    Moreover, without Ferguson, we simply don’t have enough great players. We have good squad players, but not enough world class footballers.
    DDG, Rafael, Carrick (though he is getting up there in age), Nani, Januzaj, and RvP. For now,they are irreplaceable. We need a starting player in at least every other position, chiefly at CM, and also to replace Rooney. Rooney is supposed to be our best player. He constantly underwhelms, has a terrible first touch, and hides his lack of creativity behind work rate in the midfield and defensive third. We NEED a world class #10. Maybe Ozil will be available…

  7. While it is only 8 games in the season and Moyes is saying we have a slow start, the rot is already starting to set in with the drop in confidence as seen from the body language of those on the field and even worse for those on the bench…like Kags and Chicha! The team is already on a cycle which they can only come out of thru some daring and imaginative play – not the conservative tactics used by Moyes! Morale will be low as players that should be on the field spend game after game sitting there which leads to more rust and loss of confidence and the spiral continues! The players know who should be playing and questions will keep coming and if it’s clear the gaffer appears clueless or is simply too stubborn to see what’s needed, the players will very soon up and go! Watch Kags and Chicha hand in their transfer requests soon!
    On the January transfer window, I bet that we will not get a decent signing. Why ? Because who wants to join a team with a manager that is out of his depth annd with this uncertainty of a possible change in manger any decent pplayer would think twice to come on board. Ask yourself, would Kags have joined from Dortmund if he knew that SAF would be leaving ?
    What is acceptable performance by Moyes for the season ? Will not making the Top 4 be seen as acceptable ? Will finishing at mid-table be basis for a sacking ? Who decides ?

  8. why why why u defending indefensible???? moyes ruinining united with his fucking defensive minded play. he is absolutely clueless, do u want united to become new everton. i hope moyes soon lose the dressing room an he’ll be sacked sooner rather than later. its the only hope to get 4th place.

  9. this blog is starting to lose any credibility iam afraid. just read the comments – it appears you are the only optimist or is it fucking delusion? why you are defending the man who is ruining our club? are you happy to watch this fucking shit football all the time, wdf??

  10. @minimal shut up ya mug! No need for your negativity on here! Ye we’ve been poor. Moyes needs time. His tactics, press dealings, subs etc havent been great in fairness but give the lad time. @denton either kagawa or cleverley need to be deployed in our midfield. We cant rely on just carrick and fellaini. Simples. Need that energy creativity and pace. Jones is not a midfielder fella. And wazza doesnt look to dropping into midfield anytime soon…

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