Manchester United equal the longest undefeated streak away from home but squander the opportunity to build on the opening weekends fireworks. The match ends 1-1.
How Did Manchester United Set Up?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reverted back to the double pivot that although served him well last season, really frustrated many United fans.
A solitary change from the opening weekend saw Matic come into the fold and McTominay rested, if rumours are to be believed this was an enforced change as the young Scott had a knock in training.
3 words to describe the game; NEGATIVE, TROUBLING, UNSURPRISING.
The Team:Embed from Getty Images
David De Gea (GK), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB), Victor Lindelof (CB), Harry Maguire (CB), Luke Shaw (LB), Fred (CM), Nemanja Matic (CM), Bruno Fernandes (AM), Mason Greenwood (RW), Paul Pogba (LW), Anthony Martial (ST)
Southampton vs Manchester United: How It Went Down
Double pivot tactics were noticeable almost immediately, a strong start from Southampton with a compact, high press saw a nervy first few minutes for a Red Devil. Matic and Fred failing to break up the play from the Southampton midfield was a sign of things to come.
8 minutes in, United had a good chance, a cross from the right-hand side (free kick) saw a few heads dive toward the ball, an air-shot from Lindelof and a fumble from Pogba and Maguire saw the ball rebound off the cross-bar, Martial attempted a head from the dropping ball but the effort though on target, was tame and cleared off the line by Salisu, the Southampton Centre Back.
This trend continued with a few more clear-cut opportunities arising but nothing with conviction for all of the shooting there was no goal inside the first 20 minutes.Embed from Getty Images
GOAL 1 (30th Minute) – For the second time this season the opening goal came on the 30th minute, A poor clearance from Fred saw Bruno under abrupt pressure, what many have called out as being a foul on Bruno wasn’t given. Jack Stephens won the ball back slipped it inside to the CM position, at the edge of the box, Che Adams took an optimistic shot and a deflected effort went inside De Gea’s goal. A series of errors from Fred, led to unnecessary pressure and a goal, not the best start to the game for the Brazilian, but nothing unfamiliar to United fans either.
The Mancunian outfit responded well with a good attitude toward the play before the end of the first half but in the midst of this Southampton had another opportunity just 10 minutes later. A Break from a Man Utd corner saw Adam Armstrong pick the ball up near the RB position, after evading an initial challenge from Fred, he ran rampant down the wing, brushing off a second failed attempt from Fred to win the ball and crossing the ball to eventually lead to nothing.
Moments later a decent opportunity fell to Matic, a good delivery in from another dead ball situation saw a chance wasted as Matic gets everything right except the direction, the header is straight down the barrel of the GK’s gun!
The 1st half ends with the Saint’s leading 1-0.
United started the second half very well, there was a clear spring in the step of the players in that awful blue 3rd kit. Had they had the hairdryer or some of Giggs’ Jaffa cakes? The positive play was leading somewhere and it was only a matter of time before the red devils rippled the net!Embed from Getty Images
GOAL 2 (54th Minute) – The goal was all about Pogba and his brilliance, he received the ball to the top left corner of the 18yrd box, did a little shimmy, he danced, ducked, dipped, dived and dodged those Southampton defenders played a neat 1-2 with Bruno and with the faintest of toe pokes lay the ball off for Greenwood, the teenager finishes another gifted offering with a sweeping left foot.
It’s 1-1, game on! So, you’d be fooled to believe, positive changes were made by Ole and his coaching staff, Martial, Matic and Fred all replaced by Sancho, McTominay and Lingard however neither set of fresh legs made any significant impact in the game. Southampton had 2 more great opportunities to win the game but it looked to peter out to a 1-1 draw thanks to a great save from David De Gea, between the sticks, and a tactful foul from Harry Maguire to prevent a 1-on-1 situation with De Gea.
Final Score: 1-1
GOALS = Greenwood (x1), Fred OG (x1)
ASSIST(S) = Pogba (x1)
Things to note
The midfield looked good last week with dynamic switches in play, marauding runs and a commanding presence winning the ball back early with conclusive challenges, this was everything we were not today, it’s becoming glaringly obvious Scott McTominay is vital to what we do well in the middle of the park. Graeme Souness made a comment at half time, Fred and Matic are “two steady eddies’ but you get nothing from them going forward” and for the first time in my life, many fans would agree with him, Unicorns do exist!
The pace of the Southampton front three, not just running with the ball, but the closing down of the United defence was worrying, this game was perfect for Raphael Varane, why was he omitted, is he not fit? You don’t buy a Ferrari to let it sit in the garage…Embed from Getty Images
Does Ole lack the grit to make tougher decisions earlier in games? Personally, I would have hooked Fred at half time and changed the tactics around, with Matic dropping into what appeared a set, back 3 (He was the deepest outfield player at times) it invited Southampton to start any attack further up the field, this was completely avoidable. Bruno looked tiresome after 70 minutes too, could Donny not have had a chance?
Man of the Match – Paul Labile PogbaEmbed from Getty Images
No player particularly shone in fairy dust today, Greenwood worked hard throughout and showed maturity to finish a chance after failing with a few earlier in the game. Pogba however was at the heart of everything United did well going forward, a few wayward passes towards the latter stages of the game can be forgiven as we are a club who take late risks, however, the fancy footwork and clever positioning gave us that equalising goal and put us back into the game.
We’ve done some great business this summer transfer market, the additions of Varane and Sancho are great however, I’d go as far as to speak for the consensus here, a ready-made addition to central midfield is needed for us to challenge for honours.
Niguez? Neves? Camavinga? Ndidi? Rice? Nobody is out of reach when Manchester United knock on the door. Cases can be made for the recruitment of any of the options, who would you pick?
It’s going to be another season of rollercoaster emotion, strap yourself in!