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Premier League 2 review | Southampton 2-0 United

Southampton v Man Utd 22/08/16

After last week’s smash and grab against an experienced Leicester team, Warren Joyce and his young reds travelled to the South coast for our first away game of the Premier League 2 season versus Southampton.

Joyce was again forced into shuffling the team due to injury concerns and the recent departures out on loan of left back Borthwick-Jackson to Wolves and striker Wilson to Derby. Sam Johnston who has been carrying an injury was replaced in goal by Henderson. Ex Man City trialist Sadiq El Fitouri came into the team at right back as Riley moved to left back in the absence of the departed Borthwick-Jackson. The versatile Scott McTominay was bought back into the starting eleven replacing Olosunde as Joyce went for a 4-1-4-1 formation as he looked to add more of a cutting edge to the team that struggled to create any chance of note in our last game.

The opening exchanges were dominated by Southampton as they forced two corners in the initial five minutes. The first clear cut chance of the game for United came when good link up play from McTominay in midfield carved open the Saints defence, the resulting opportunity was wasted though as our captain James Weir who is usually composed when in possession blasted the ball high and wide.

Although the young reds were showing great passing ability in the middle of the pitch it was again obvious that without anyone to finish the good build-up play, it was going to be another drab affair.

The Southampton strikers, in particular Olomola, were causing more and more problems for the United defence and would have taken the lead on the 27th minute were it not for an excellent reaction stop from Henderson. United were being forced to weather the storm.

Another glorious chance fell at Weir’s feet two minutes before half time when the Southampton keeper fumbled a corner from Harrop, as the ball dropped to Weir 2 yards out he could only scuff the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.

As the second half started manager Warren Joyce made some tactical changes by moving Weir back into midfield and pushing Harrop up front. The changes failed to improve the team as Southampton looked to convert their dominance into goals.

The first goal of the game inevitably fell to Southampton when Kehinde failed to track his opposing player and the resulting cross was headed out by Tuanzebe only for it to fall at the feet of Sims and his deflected shot rifled past Henderson.

United tried to respond but without any sort of threat up front were left to try and score from long range shots. This game was crying out for a Rashford or Pereira type player and with Jose bemoaning the lack of first team games to play this should have been a game to give young players minutes on the pitch.

Southampton killed the game of when they scored their second of the game in the 62nd minute. United’s defence was again culpable when a lack of marking from a Saints corner allowed Stephens to head home unchallenged.

Joyce instantly responded to the second goal by sending on last week’s hero Demi Mitchell for El Fitouri but it failed to improve the performance of a lack lustre team on a sunny August evening. The impressive Olomola should have made it more but a couple of bad misses kept the score respectable as Southampton saw out the remainder of the game.

A disappointing result coupled with a below average performance had Warren Joyce visibly deflated in his after match interview. He will surely be looking for an instant response when we face a much sterner test on Sunday versus a strong Chelsea side. (Hopefully we find a striker before then!!!)

United Line Up:

Henderson, Riley, Tuanzebe, Poole, El Fitouri, McTominay Redmond, Harrop, Willock, Weir, Kehinde

Subs: Mitchell for El Fitouri 63mins

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Introducing the Premier League 2

The Premier League have announced an exciting new Under-23 competition that will replace the Under-21 Premier League from 2016/17.

With a greater focus on a level of play in terms of technicality, physicality and intensity the aim is to bring players as close to first-team experience as is possible.

The age limit for players has risen from Under-21 to Under-23.

The new age limit is for players born after 1 January 1993, although each team can still field an older goalkeeper and three over-age outfield players in every match.

The league will take on the same format of its predecessor of two tiers, Division 1 and Division 2, with 12 teams in each.

United, guided by Warren Joyce will be in Division 1 alongside Arsenal, Chelsea, Derby, Everton, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City, Reading, Southampton, Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur.

Teams will play each other home and away over the course of a 22-game season with the bottom two clubs being relegated to Division 2. The second-tier winners gain automatic promotion with the sides ranked second, third, fourth and fifth competing in a play-off for the second available slot.

The 24 clubs who compete each applied for ‘Category One’ status in the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

There are 15 clubs from the Premier League and 9 clubs from the Championship.

All players born after 1 January 1993 for the 2016/17 season are eligible to play, and the format stays as follows:

  • There are 12 teams in Division 1 and 12 in Division 2, with every club playing each other once at home and once away.
  • In Division 1, the team who finish first are champions.
  • The bottom two teams in Division 1 get relegated to Division 2.
  • In Division 2, the league winners get automatic promotion to Division 1.
  • Teams ranked second, third, fourth and fifth go into a promotion play-off.
  • Second plays fifth place at home and third hosts fourth in the semi-finals, both at the club’s main stadium, while the final takes place at the home ground of the team who finished highest in the league.
  • All play-off matches are one-off ties, decided by extra-time and then penalties if the match is level after 120 minutes.
  • There is no relegation from Division 2

Other rules include:

  • Each team can field a goalkeeper over the age limit and up to three ‘over-age’ outfield players in every match.
  • Each club must host at least three league matches at their main stadium during the course of the season, which helps to enhance the matchday experience for the players and fans.
  • Member clubs’ training grounds or Academy venues will be permitted for the staging of up to three home matches over the course of the league season.

Manchester United go into the 2016/17 campaign as champions in three of the U21 Premier League’s four seasons.

The increase in age limit will allow United to blood some of its most promising youngsters in what should be an entertaining competition. With the first team competing in the Europa League, players like Weir, Harrop and Sean Goss will be looking to put in performances that catch Jose Mourinho’s eye in the hope they can earn a call up to the first team squad.

The alteration in the age limit restrictions will also mean that first team squad players such as Shaw, Bailly, Depay, Rashford and Martial can appear in the Premier League 2 if a competitive match is required to boost fitness levels.

With some of our fringe players set to seek more playing time out on loan, we might also see some of our promising academy players like the mercurial Angel Gomez and Tahith Chong given a call up to our second string squad. (Surely a better option than seeing a half fit Phil Jones plodding about the pitch!)

Manchester United Reserves fixtures 2016/17:

2 Aug Oldham (H) Lancs Cup Semi-Final
15 Aug Leicester (H)
22 Aug Southampton (A)
28 Aug Chelsea (H)
9 Sep Manchester City (A)
19 Sep Derby (H)
26 Sep Everton (A)
17 Oct Liverpool (H)
24 Oct Arsenal (H)
28 Oct Tottenham (A)
21 Nov Sunderland (H)
28 Nov Reading (A)
9 Dec Chelsea (A)
9 Jan Manchester City (H)
15 Jan Liverpool (A)
30 Jan Everton (H)
6 Feb Derby (A)
20 Feb Reading (H)
5 Mar Sunderland (A)
13 Mar Southampton (H)
10 Apr Leicester (A)
24 Apr Tottenham (H)
8 May Arsenal (A)

All fixtures are subject to change. Unless otherwise stated, home games are at Leigh Sports Village and all matches will kick off at 19:00.

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