Barclays Premier League
St.Mary's - Sunday 2nd September 2012
Manchester United 3
I am going to use Crash's report for this game. Not because I am lazy (I am!), but because it largely mirrors how I saw the game as well. I also feel that my usual blow by blow type of account would not cover all the contributions of those on the pitch. There are some differences in how I viewed some players, which I will cover at the end, mostly hinging on the fact that he wrote it while the subject matter was still raw, whereas I preferred to wait a bit.
Where to start? Firstly let me state this was a great game to watch, disappointing in outcome but fabulous in potential for Southampton. I was very impressed with some players, I will go into that in more detail, I was equally unimpressed with others (and sadly they lost us the game) but again, I will go into a little later.
Basically, good game, nice shape, well chosen strategy (initially) and executed incredibly well by most of the 11 players on the pitch from the beginning, it all started unravelling unfortunately when we had to make substitutions (and yes people, we did have to make them, they were completely knackered!)
Anyway, here are the players scores with some more explanations of what I saw today:
Davis - he saved a penalty, he saved a penalty from RVP, the man who got a hat-trick and won the game for United, he might be old (Kelvin I'm talking about) but he's certainly not rubbish but, and this is a big but, can he please not pass to the opposing wingers just yards outside his own penalty box when it's time to just be safe! That aside, I thought he was okay but I really need to re-watch some of those goals to know whether he could have made them more difficult for RVP, he certainly wasn't up for the first one but the others the angle was more difficult for me to see? 7/10
Clyne – again, great potential player but what is it with him and the last third of the pitch (when he's attacking)? He just doesn't go down the outside of anyone and he will not drill into the box either, why? I can only think someone is telling him not to do this but as our attacking outlet down the right for the majority of matches why the hell are they telling him this? Anyway, quite a good game apart from the slip that may or may not have let RVP in for the first goal, I thought he did well until his cover was removed and he had to put up with testicles in front of him 7/10.
Fonte - well we know where Yoshida is going don't we? José is not rubbish, he's okay, but possibly not cut out for the Premier league, he made some good stops today and did not look as shaky as he has however he was too scared to move (it seemed to me?) And he's better when he's mobile, if he could just believe in himself maybe he would change gear and get sorted for this level? I don't think it's impossible but time seems to be running out for him if the new guy is any good. 6/10, I can't give him a bad score because they did really well for 87 min, it's a shame we lost but we did.
Hooiveld - that's better, he was excellent, no way was a penalty (I haven't seen it on TV though so I could be wrong in that regard?) And an all-round excellent game from Jos who got back to what we know we can do, anybody see the bit where he caught up with Hernandez (supposedly jet heeled?), Brilliant stuff. Just a few more headed goals now Jos, that's what you need to do and keep up the defensive performance, 8/10, great stuff.
Fox - not bad, he could be better but not bad today, there were some shaky moments and sometimes he just wasn't in the game which is a shame because as LBS will tell you, he is supposed to be our attacking outlet on the left-hand side, still he was better without that plonker Rodriguez in front of him (more on him later!) 6/10, did well, shackled Valencia reasonably but somehow seemed to lack conviction when going forward, no more excuses, he can do better.
Lallana - carried on last weeks good game and improved on it, effective, mobile and more decisive (importantly), he was also snappier in what he did, there is still a lack of instant action which you need to be successful in the Premier league but importantly, he's getting there. Decisive, captain like, chasing down and distribution were brilliant today although he did miss a great chance to put punch through to make it 3-1, 8/10, we really missed him when he went but he was spent by then.
Schneiderlin - initially, for about 5-10 min, he was not there and then all of a sudden BANG he came into the game and ran our midfield, brilliant, not just because he scored a goal, just simply excellent. 9/10, ran out of puff but that was the Morgan I remembered, let's see if he can do that now against the worst teams in the league, if so we will rule
Steve Davis - he looks fit, made a lot of difference to Morgan and was everywhere for us, I don't think he can do this for every game because he was just phenomenal but I was very impressed with this guy today, staggering stamina. 9/10, a little bit more attacking penetration maybe but I just can't really fault him apart from that, he was LITERALLY playing in every position on the pitch, superb.
Ward-Prowse - I will admit I started sucking my teeth and going on about 17-year-olds playing against United when I saw the initial lineup, this kid changed my mind, he was great. No ifs, no quibbling, for a 17-year-old midfielder against Manchester United this kid did everything except score. 8/10, fecking excellent and I will keep my comments to myself until after the game next time I see him start on the team sheet.
Lambert - much better today, made himself a right pain in the arse for the United centre backs and did exactly as I was hoping he would do and peel off to the back stick for Puncheon's deft lob/cross, you just knew when you saw him coming in from there that it was going to be a goal and he did not disappoint. Ran himself ragged and was sorely missed when he was substituted but again he was knackered by then so there wasn't a choice about it really. 8/10, I want him to pull the trigger a bit more, you know and I know that he's got lots of different kinds of goals in his locker, let's see some that make the man city goal look like a run-of-the-mill, I know you can do it Rickie.
Puncheon - I wasn't sure, I saw the team sheet and I thought "really, are you sure Nigel?" But apart from the initial 10 min period when I thought he was a bit flaky he was excellent, that is the kind of player I hoped we had bought three years ago, that is the kind of player he needs to continue to be. Admittedly, he probably could have picked slightly different options on a couple of occasions and maybe, or maybe not, he could have had a shot or two that wasn't aimed at the rafters but generally, an outstanding performance from punch and I'm just going to give him 8/10 and say he's another one we replaced with a hopeless and feckless alternative which lost us the game.
Rodriguez - okay, I've seen him five times now, I can officially say my opinion is now down the toilet, he was fecking dreadful! I'm not arsing about with this, he replaced Lallana and "oh my God" what a head and shoulders comparative experience that was, there was just nothing about this bloke when he came on that provided anything other than a place to hang a shirt, I have a feeling we may have been taken for a ride, £7 million is a lot of money and at the moment I have to say I would probably want 14 of this player for the money, what is going on? 2/10, yes, he was that bad and only saved by a lower score because Mayuka was playing.
Guly - completely useless, came on and took up Puncheon's position and then singularly failed to impress himself on any area of the pitch whatsoever whilst concurrently running up and down the wing following anybody on the left of man United's midfield, 2/10, possibly saved from a lower score because of our new "striker".
Mayuka - okay, he's going to get a bad score, I've been setting him up for this and he deserves it, 1/10, headless chicken without the running, should never have been on the pitch. HOWEVER, he does have an excuse, he's been playing for the football club for about two days and quite clearly had no expectations and very little idea of what he was supposed to do, consequently he did absolutely fecking nothing. Let's hope he improves he has an excuse, Rodriguez & Guly Do Not!
Crash's Conclusion :
Brilliant game, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and I was only disappointed in the end because I actually thought we deserved to win that game, no quibbles, we were the best team but we just didn't have a £24 million striker and that was pretty significant.
It's not the reason why we lost the game though, the reason why we lost the game is because we just didn't have the right people on the bench or if we did we didn't use them, we replaced knackered forwards with useless forwards and it didn't work!
Nigel NEARLY won this game on tactics, he got everything spot on right up to the point when he left our exhausted midfield exposed by putting on people who have never been able to make a tackle in their lives to protect them in the end stages of the game.
Some of the questions I ask myself after this:
Why didn't he have a central midfielder on the bench?
Why didn't he protect Clyne with Richardson (who he did have on the bench)?
Why did he play a player that does not know what we do, how we do it & what to do in a Southampton shirt?
Why loan out Hammond if you have no central midfield backup (when you can loan him out any time in the next month for as long as you like when everyone else is fit)?
Maybe he didn't have any options? I don't know, maybe Chaplow is injured? We know Cork is injured so I suppose we don't have so many spares any longer? All I know is that at the end of the game it was 8 players versus 11 and that's what lost us the game.
The central midfield three, Morgan, Steve & James were completely knackered by the end, the substitutions made were necessary but were involved in all the wrong players and they made everything unravel. I stick by my player scores, everybody needs some help and by the end our midfield just couldn't do it with deadweight on the pitch.
I'm not going to bother with any more but generally that's where I think we came unstuck, there are always going to be differences between the quality of players and marked and notable differences between the quality of players from clubs like United and ours, today that was mostly noticeable from the bench as our first 11 were superb with only minor glitches really.
So, I'm not really going to unload, I'm sure everyone else will discuss anyway and of course I will chip in but, apart from the result which as I said before, I'm really disappointed at, this was pretty much 87 min of excellent football (notwithstanding the 15 min with 3 useless bodies) with 5 min of mistakes tacked onto the end.
I enjoyed it, I hated it, I really want some points on the board, I'm also really hopeful that the new players will give us some of the strength in depth that we are currently missing… Till then, it's the international break I guess…
I am not going to nitpick on the individual scores Crash has given the players, but I do feel he was a bit harsh on the substitutes. Fergie got his substitutions spot on, but Nigel made a right hash of his. To be fair to the bloke, he got his initial team spot on, but maybe he never really expected to be in a winning position come the end of the match.
As to the substitutes themselves, Rodriguez was the one that puzzled me the most. If you pay several million for a centre forward why would you stick him on the wing (Again!!) and replace Lambert with a midget, who has never played for the club?? For goodness sake, shouldn't you be looking to close the game out by stifling play and not continuing to try (unsuccessfully) to press up the pitch for a third goal. A glimpse of the bench gives you part of the answer :
Frankly, there just were not the right people on the bench for the job in hand. So, that is a clear management failure. He got it wrong. Just as much as he got it right with Lambert at Manchester City.
To my way of thinking the differences between the two teams were the outstanding Van Persie and Scholes on the pitch and Sir Alex Ferguson glowering on the benches.
Just a shame Saints could not hold on until the end of the game, but this teams time will come. Time to draw the proverbial blue line under it and prepare for Arsenal at the Emirates...
05 Hooiveld Booked
08 S Davis
20 Lallana (Rodriguez - 78' )
42 Puncheon (Mayuka - 74' )
07 Lambert (Guly - 75' )
23 Cleverley (Scholes - 61' )
26 Kagawa (Nani - 61' )
19 Welbeck (Hernandez - 71' )
20 Van Persie
01 De Gea
Manchester United 56%
Manchester United 18
Manchester United 9
Manchester United 7
Manchester United 4