Wayne Rooney scores against Southampton last season
Manchester United take on Southampton at home for the 114th time in both clubs history. David Moyes will be looking to get the season back on track having lost three of the opening seven fixtures so far, whilst Mauricio Pochettino will be looking to build on Southampton early form. The Argentine has tightened up the defence since last season, with the Saints only conceding two goals so far in comparison to 23 goals in seven last games last season. United fans will be bolstered by the news that young starlet Adnan Januzaj has signed a new five year deal with the club. The youngster was outstanding in the 2-1 victory over Sunderland two weeks ago and many will be hoping to see him line up on the left hand side this afternoon.
Here we have a great view from the opposition discussing the early impact of David Moyes, the young Southampton left back Luke Shaw and the best player to play for the Saints, other than Matthew Le Tissier.
We caught up with Barny Read who answered a few of our questions:
1) Mauricio Pochettino has been a revelation since joining in January, where can you realistically finish this season?
We’ve certainly gone to the next level since Pochettino came in and we shouldn’t be worrying about relegation this year but instead looking to finish as high as we can in the top half. I don’t think that Europa League qualification is too far-fetched an idea but there are a number of teams sniffing around the top four now with real quality in their squads. I’d expect us to finish at least 8th or 9th this season, much depends on our ability to maintain our excellent start and the form of those around us.
2) At the time, many thought that Nigel Atkins was unfairly sacked – did you feel this way at the time and what are your thoughts now?
I actually said in this feature last year that I was disappointed by the manner in which Adkins was sacked but that the decision was unsurprising. I felt for Adkins as he’d become (and still is) a hero at the club for how he lead the club from League One to the Prem but no-one can deny that it wasn’t a positive move from the chairman. Pochettino has come in and got the team playing an exciting brand of football and been backed by the board to get the players that he wants which is encouraging and hope all feel some vindication for those decisions considering where we sit currently. Pochettino’s faith in our academy is also something that sits well with Saints fans who take a great deal of pride in seeing the likes of Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and Callum Chambers breaking into the first-team and more than holding their own in the top-flight.
3) Rickie Lambert has been a great success story – how many goals can he notch up this season and can he play a part for England next summer?
It pains me a little to write this but I can’t see Rickie getting too many this season, at least not too many more than he did last year where 15 in the league represented a fantastic return. He has two so far and reaching another 15 in his second Premier League season would be pretty impressive, I think, considering his career so far. As for England, I most certainly think he can offer us something in Brazil. His link up play, ability in the air, finishing and touch are superb assets and ones that I don’t think too many English strikers can rival right now. I think he would compliment the likes of Rooney, Sturridge, Wellbeck and Defoe by bringing something different to the party and will prove a great option for Hodgson. His passion and pride at playing for England, evident after scoring against Scotland, are also endearing and I think a lot of England fans would like to see him get a chance. As with all players in contention though much will obviously depend on his season.
4) Luke Shaw is being watched by many big clubs. Just how exciting a prospect is he and do you expect him to be at Southampton next season?
Shaw is a class act and a real exciting talent. He is a good, solid defender and doesn’t get a great deal of credit for his defensive work because he is so good going forward. His aggression and fearlessness in attack is something only inherent in talented youth and he no doubt has an exciting future in the game.
To answer the second part of that question, my view hasn’t changed since last year. I firmly believe he’ll be with us next season. He’s got a new deal, we are progressing, he’s getting games and international recognition with the U21s and we don’t need to sell. Unless silly money is chucked about and Chelsea (who he supports) get involved I can’t see him leaving for at least another 18 months or so.
5) Morgan Schneiderlin has gotten some rave reviews this season, what kind of a midfielder is he?
Morgan is a player that has truly earned his stripes in the lower leagues with Saints and just like Lallana, Lambert, Cork and Fonte has taken the Premier League by storm. He was superb last year with the most interceptions and tackles in the league I think and this year has taken on a slightly different role alongside Victor Wanyama. He loves a tackle and is no nonsense but his ability on the ball is also excellent and he’s superb in his simplicity which can sometimes define a central midfielder.
6) What have you made of David Moyes and United so far this season?
#MoyesOut? I think United have been pretty dour on the pitch so far. I’ve seen a fair number of their games and they look incredibly lightweight going forward for a Manchester United side. Personally, I think Moyes will be exceptional given time to imprint his own style on the team. He’s only really brought in Fellaini so it’s still Sir Alex’s team which must be hard for Moyes to truly make an impact on the club as a whole in his first season. One thing I will say is that I think his reluctance to play Shinji Kagawa so far this season is baffling.
7) How do you expect the season to pan out for United?
You could never write off a United side under Ferguson but I can’t see this team winning the league unless others really cock it up. They should ease through the Champo League group and maybe hope for a quarter final and a domestic cup win come the end of May. I think this season should be a bit of a learning experience for Moyes and his charges with the aim of retaining Champions League football and having a go in the cups. Next year, with backing and more of a Moyes identity, I think United will be a force.
8) How will Southampton line up on Saturday and do you have a prediction?
We’ve been playing a quite fluid 4-4-1-1 so far this season with Dani Osvaldo playing slightly off of Lambert up top, Lallana on the left and either Steven Davis or Jay Rodriquez on the the right. I can see Davis playing in this one as Pochettino likes him in the big games or when the side needs a bit more balance. Wanyama and Schneiderlin should pair in the centre of midfield and our defence picks itself at the minute. Boruc in goal, Clyne and Shaw as full backs and Lovren and Fonte in the heart of the defence.
9) If you could take one United player, who would it be and why?
Kagawa. Without doubt. I think he’s a truly exciting player and his ability on the ball is unrivalled. He’s also being wasted so far this season so he could do with the games.
10) Other than Le Tissier, who is the best Southampton player of all time?
As last year, Lambo will eventually go down as a great and will join likes of Terry Paine, Micky Channon, Bobby Stokes, Franny Benali and Jason Dodd as being labelled legends at the club. I’ve also got a fondness for Egil Ostenstad but that’s just me.