clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Match Report: 2-0 loss but reasons for optimism

This one had been hyped long before the first week had ended. A new play thing for Murdoch's satellite juggernauts. Friday night football swaggered it's way onto our screens whilst our fans sat on the M6 hoping to not miss too much of the first half.

Manchester United v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Any thoughts of our saints rolling over and having their collective tummies tickled this evening had vanished within two minutes. The boys in grey took hold of the ball early and signalled their intent to take the game to united. A game that ended with them having 58% of possession and vastly out passing their moneyed hosts. And while money can't buy you everything. Love and a dinosaur being two examples, it can buy you a tonne of attacking football talent.

After a promising opening, United's massive egos turn up the heat. They are bigger, stronger and quicker than the visitors. It only takes 10 minutes for Romeu's quads to collapse from the run around he's been given and he signals for a change.

On comes the diminutive dutch Xavi for his first appearance of the season. Hojbjerg drops into the base of the diamond and the saints actually look stronger. After a quarter of an hour they are no longer on the run and nice possession ends with Tadic racing(as much as he can race) onto a bouncing ball in the box. He smashes it high into the cheap seats.

Moments later and its Redmond time to race onto a ball down the right. His cross far too powerful for Tadic to get on the end of. Saints are back on top here. The new man Clasie is busy and causing issues for the two giants in united's midfield.

At the midway point of the half our boys are still in the ascendancy. A freekick from the left can only be cleared vertically by the united defence and Redmond cushions the ball to Long in the box, he spins his man but can only brush the side netting with his shot.

With half an hour on the clock Zlatan is cutting an increasingly forlorn figure upfront. He is starting to drop. Anything to escape from Virgil's grasp but the big Dutchman follows him around the pitch nullifying any attempts.

Long is played through after a one time pass from Hojbjerg to Tadic starts a break away and the Serb puts it perfectly in Shane's stride the other side of Eric Bailly. Long takes an early shot with his left that trickles towards De Gea. He will wish he could have a mulligan on that shot. Perhaps he'd take another touch given a second go at it.

Rooney is played through and has a good ten metres of freedom in the far corner of Old Trafford. Davis is the covering midfielder and makes a half-hearted effort at blocking the cross. It's a looped ball and Pogba is charging into the box. Behind him is Zlatan who has moved as far away from Van Dijk as possible and Fonte has a choice. Help out Clasie with Pogba or challenge the big Swede. For a split second he contemplates helping his tiny midfield colleague and its over. He has lost the window of opportunity to jump with Ibra. The inevitable has occurred. Forster doesn't have a chance.

Half time and saints are unlucky to be one down. Long almost met a deep cross from Hojbjerg minutes after conceding. Alas it was not to be. After all the hype, Sky might be right. This place might have its swagger back.

All the talk pre-match was about Pogba and he doesn't disappoint today. He glides around the pitch looking for all the world like a created character in a video game. He's too big to be this quick, too strong to be so delicate with his touch. He looks like a high level world of warcraft assailant, one who has been granted special powers by equipping an egregious hairstyle.

Even though our boys can't tackle him when he gets on the ball we still dominate possession. He is equipped in a midfield two with Fellaini and those who have been accusing Puel's system of being too narrow and unworkable have been shut up today.

To start the second half Shaw flies past two men and cuts the ball back to Mata. He can't keep his shot down and Mourinho glowers at him from the sideline. The 4th official hovers his thumbs over the eight button on his giant electronic number board.

Down the other end of the pitch Van Dijk is off on one of his trademark runs from deep. The ball falls to Hojbjerg who goes on a run of his own (patent pending). As the saints pass the ball back and forth whilst occasionally probing, the ball is switched to Cedric who heads across to Tadic who guides it into the back of the net. He was a good few yards offside and the away section quickly shut themselves up.

Peeeeeeep, a penalty. No arguments from the saints except to shout at Clasie for such a pointless foul when no danger was present. Zlatan dispatches the dead ball and the task feels too big now for our boys.

Redmond continues to look sharp on the ball skipping past players but it's always away from the danger zone and not for the first time he misses the man with his pass. An hour is on the clock and finally Martial wakes up.

For ten minutes Manchester United live up to the pre-match promise and their fans can dream about what this team could be. Schneiderlin and Mhkitaryan, two of the leagues finest talents, sit on the bench and watch an awe-inspiring show of skill at top speed. Martial goes on an attack that leaves Fonte for dead and but for Van Dijk it would be three zip.

To highlight the difference in height between the teams Hojbjerg has to pick up Pogba on set pieces. The debutant should do better with a free header from a corner.

Puel on the sideline has gone for broke. Charlie Austin is on for a drenched Steven Davis, he looks to have lost half his weight chasing Pogba's tail. Tadic drops into the midfield three.

The united storm has passed within fifteen minutes and saints are no longer merely hoping that it remains 2-0. It may be due to the boss' change or just that united feel the game is won.

Saints have a few quarter chances to finish the game and definitely haven't been outplayed here. They have, however, been outclassed by some truly elite football players on elite wages.

Leaving the game the squad has to have a sense of optimism. Two games into the new campaign and the team looks a lot better than it did two games into last season when the fans were left reeling by a horrific performance against Everton. We have the same solitary point and there are still questions about where do the goals come from but tonight our boys went toe to toe with an absolute beast.

Forster: 7 Made some saves, couldn't do anything about the goals.

Cedric: 6 Still defensively suspect. A few decent crosses and a disallowed assist belie the lack of impact he had going forward.

Van Dijk: 8 The one player in grey with the same presence of united's freakishly giant superstars.

Fonte: 7 Typical performance from the captain. Unlucky with the goal as he had half an eye on Pogba. Lack of pace highlighted the fancifulness of the rumours of a champions league move.

Targett: 7 Decent defensively. Always offering an option going forward.

Romeu: Injured after 10 minutes. Didn't have the best start to the game.

Hojbjerg: 7 Did well but for the first time in a saints shirt he wasn't the best player in the middle of the pitch.

Davis: 6 The man who always gives you a 7 or 8 hasn't played well yet this season. My opinion has always been he struggles playing in a deeper role.

Tadic: 7 Unable to create as much as he did against Watford, but revelling in his role at the tip of the diamond.

Redmond: 7 The man most likely to conjure up a bit of magic. Yet to find his inner Henry in front of goal though. Snatched at a few today.

Long: 6 Huffed and puffed as always but Bailly looks a tough nut to crack.

Clasie: 6 Our fortunes transformed when he came on. Hassled and harried. Minus one for the stupid penalty.

Austin: Unable to get into a position to show his goal scoring instincts.

J Rod: Almost had a chance to relive that goal he scored at Old Trafford years ago. Came to nothing, as usually seems to be the case now for Jay.