SOUTHAMPTON VS MANCHESTER UNITED
The last game of the season and the last game under Giggs as interim manager; could United go out on a high?
In: Ferdinand, Vidic, Fletcher, van Persie, Mata and Welbeck.
Out: Valencia, Jones, Carrick, Lawrence, Fellaini and Wilson.
- A game of two halves – very distinct performances.
- Two shots on target is hardly inspiring stuff
- Van Persie’s was ineffective and could be attributed to two main things:
- Returning from injury
- The disconnect between he and the midfield
- More in the first half than the second but the right hand side was not as effective as you would have hoped; Januzaj often ran out of ideas whilst Smalling rarely supported him.
- Kagawa and Fletcher seemed an odd pairing and under utilised the Japanese players abilities. He was completely ineffective.
- The importance of Wanyama. Whilst the Kenyan isn’t the quality United are after, he displayed great hustling abilities and a range of skills behind the strikers and in front of the defence that we are missing.
The team’s formations were distinctly different as United looked to counter whilst Southampton were on the front foot; 4-1-4-1 versus 3-5-2 respectively. Both had the ability to shift from attack to defence but with different consequences. When Southampton had the ball in attack they congregated the ball in the middle whilst United tried to go out wide. Fortunes varied as Southampton were definitely the team with greater grip on the game.
This occupation ‘busied’ the now departed Ferdinand and Vidic who were keeping a low profile, lower than the line Smalling and Evra kept, when dealing with Lambert who hustled them well and his side kick Lallana buzzed around. They were often seen targeting the space between Vidic and Evra, something a lot of teams have tried this season.
To stem the Southampton occupation Giggs asked his men to drop deep into a 4-5-1 with Mata, Fletcher and Kagawa forming a triumvirate, yet the three were too deep when in possession of the ball and lacked swiftness when breaking. The formation didn’t suit the personnel.
When United did clear the ball they tried to get it out wide, as we can see below, chiefly to the right yet Januzaj struggled to make an impact.
The depth of the midfield and defenders didn’t always work as we saw in the 28th minute when Southampton took the lead. A long ball to Lambert saw the England man foul Vidic and fooling de Gea with the ‘eyes’ to send him the wrong way. The long ball took advantage of the gap between the defence and midfield.
United were ineffective and this was in small part to Wanyama. His bustling and forceful manner kept the area in front of the Southampton defence a worry free zone for them.
There was no fightback in this half and with the second half looming Giggs would have been looking for a massive improvement. This time last year United were down 2-0 but this time last year this team were managed by Sir Alex.
Giggs brought Carrick on for Kagawa to get a grip of the zone in front of the defence and start moving that ball quicker and more accurately. It helped as United now had more purpose about their game.
This purpose drew a free kick on the edge of the box which was sweetly converted by Mata. Boom! The chance came after Welbeck found space between the defence and the midfield something which van Persie wasn’t able to do.
The Dutchman didn’t have a good game. The graphic below illustrates his contribution best and it makes grim reading. Yet to be fair he wasn’t supplied well and the gap between he and the midfield was too wide. He drops to a certain line, approximately 25 yards away from the opposition goal, yet this still wasn’t enough to get involved.
Januzaj was certainly more considered with his crosses but he didn’t play well as he looked predictable. Whilst the young lad hasn’t been as electrifying as his early season promise he wasn’t by Smalling who rarely pushed on.
The game petered out with very else little worth mentioning.
What is there to say that hasn’t already been said?
There was no glimmer of hope for the season ahead based on this performance. It was very much the same as nearly all the games have been this season. The contributing factor Ferguson had to the success of Manchester United has been made very clear this season.
Moyes talked of rebuilding whilst Giggs talked of the need to put smiles back on faces. They are both required for next season.
P.S. A big thank-you to Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand for their magnificent contribution to Manchester United FC. A truly great centre-back pairing.