Those of you that follow me (not many I know) will know that I have been very much in the ‘Mourinho-In’ camp for some time. Whilst many, including our very own Mark Goldbridge, have pitched up tents over in the ‘out’ camp, I have remained across in my field, like an old man at Glastonbury a week after the festival has finished. Continue reading What is going on??
In the end, the clinical powerhouse that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic put to rest a valiant resurgence by Southampton in the 2017 EFL Cup final. Outplayed for vast quantities of the game, we were (once again) grateful to this season’s talisman for what looked at times an undeserved victory.
This is not to say that we didn’t deserve the win – you can only be judged on the final scoreline – but Southampton’s performance merited at least the possibility of extra time. Even the manager, usually so reserved in his praise for opposing teams, was profuse in his admittance of the Saints’ dominance over 90 minutes. According to him, this was a game in which “[Southampton] was better than us for long periods of the game”. And yet, we leave Wembley the victors: trophy number 65 in hand, and no amount of criticism from rival fans can take that away.
Critics will point to Southampton’s wrongly disallowed opener changing the face of the match. Others, of the United persuasion, may mention Bobby Stokes’ offside goal in the 1976 final…let’s just call it even for now. Officials will always be scrutinised, but we can only play to the whistle and decision.
United approached this fixture as game number four in the space of just eleven days. Combined with Mourinho’s apparent unwillingness to rotate the squad accordingly, the recipe was there for an underwhelming, fatigued performance. “The fuel was not in our legs” – the strikingly accurate synopsis offered by the manager. And this was evident throughout. The back four were shaky; this was possibly Eric Bailly’s worst game in a United shirt, and Marcos Rojo had the look of a man coached by Louis Van Gaal. Paul Pogba, despite having been described as “outstanding” by the manager, had in the eyes of most of the United support, one of his most peripheral performances in the shirt. Remarkably, our entire team could have afforded themselves the luxury of an off-day, because of the sheer force of will of the self-proclaimed ‘King’ of Sweden.
We took the lead courtesy of his nineteenth minute free-kick. A thing of beauty, but one well overdue (I’ve lost count of the amount of wall-struck free kicks offered up ’til now); Jessie Lingard’s Wembley love-affair shows no signs of fizzling out – his stroked finish on 38 minutes saw us cruising, wholly against the run of play. Before this, Southampton had continually threatened, with Oriel Romeu hitting the woodwork and Gabbiadini’s disallowed finish leaving the Saints’ march rather stunted. The ex-Napoli man injected some urgency into the fixture just after the interval, his finish expertly passing through David de Gea’s usually bolted-shut legs, one minute into first-half injury time. Gabbiadini (already far and away Liverpool’s next-best striker at this point) restored parity to the scoreline with another brilliant finish from inside the box.
Fast-forward through 40 minutes of Southampton routinely leaving us second-best, enter Zlatan. Ander Herrera’s (more often praised for his grit and aggressiveness this season) produced a beautifully lofted pass to find the Swede, who – of course – headed the ball over Fraser Forster and ultimately crushed the Saints’ hopes of another 30 minutes at Wembley. The big man’s stats now read as follows: game number 38; goal number 26, trophy number two (so far).
Now, I may have sounded entirely effusive in my description of Zlatan’s contribution to the final. It’s impossible not to be when a player has such a singularly dominant performance. And yet there’s some room for me to leave you with a slight concern as well, particularly when it comes to Zlatan’s role and position in the squad.
After arriving from what may be a wrongly or rightly labelled ‘weak’ Ligue 1, the former PSG player has unequivocally proven his capabilities as a top performer, tried and tested in all of Europe’s major leagues. What troubles me is that this year will be 36. Is it wise of Mourinho to depend so heavily on an ageing player who, whilst undoubtedly a positive influence in every imaginable way on our young squad, will surely call time after next season at the latest? Our style of play is so clearly moulded with the focal point of Zlatan in mind. The majority of United fans (I’m sure) called for an exorcism of LVG’s mundane and predictable ‘Philosophy’ after our performances on the pitch took a dour and ineffective shape. Whilst the results and solidity of the team have taken an evident upturn since LVG’s doomed tenure, the style of play in recent fixtures most definitely has not.
In no way is this concern a call-to-arms on Mourinho’s dependency on Ibrahimovic, but after a season’s worth of seemingly youth-appropriate fixtures has passed us by (i.e. Wigan, St.Etienne, etc.) , there seem to be a fair few talented younger players who aren’t getting their fair share of game time. Was the injury to Henrikh Mkhitaryan really a necessary one? Is the obvious fatigue affecting the squad an avoidable situation? Don’t misinterpret my scepticism for disappointment; Mourinho and United seem a better fit now than at any point – the habit of winning is absolutely invaluable for our squad, and I’m delighted at the way we’re progressing. But the recognition must be there that we are a long way from the finished article.
At some point in the future the manager will have to place greater trust on the shoulders of Martial, Rashford and co, because as remarkable a talent as Zlatan is, his star will undoubtedly fade, and we need to have a contingency plan in place for when he does.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th minute winner as Manchester United overcame a spirited Southampton side at Wembley in an entertaining EFL Cup final.
United took the lead through a powerful Ibrahimovic free-kick which flew past the diving Fraser Forster.
Jesse Lingard added a second with a composed finish from 12 yards as United looked to cruise to a comfortable victory.
But Southampton roared back in added time of the first half as Gabbiadini pulled one back with a cheeky finish through the legs of De Gea from point blank range.
Southampton started the second half on the front foot and got the equaliser through a fantastic on the turn finish by Gabbiadini again.
United were on the back foot as Southampton looked the most likely to snatch victory. Romeu came closest for the Saints as his header cannoned off the post.
But it was Zlatan who stole the show at Wembley as he powered in a header to seal the victory for United. Ander Herrera delivered an enticing cross and Zlatan converted the chance expertly beyond Forster to break Southampton hearts.
Southampton will feel angry after Gabbiadini had a goal ruled out wrongly for offside when the game was scoreless.
The win secures Jose Mourinho’s first major trophy in his first season as manager of United, a record which no other United manager has achieved.
This silverware is proof of the apparent improvement under Mourinho who has instilled the will to win into the squad, who also have the ability to grind out victories.
The absence of Mkhitaryan meant the fluidity in attack was removed, with Juan Mata being ineffective in the first half. Mourinho hauled off the Spaniard at half-time and introduced Michael Carrick for his calming presence in midfield.
Southampton created all sorts of problems for United, and can feel proud of how hard they fought against a very strong United side, but ultimately the difference in class showed as Zlatan powered in the winner.
Match winner Ibrahimovic said, “This is a team effort. This is what I came for – to win and I am winning. The more I win the more satisfied I get.”
United boss Jose Mourinho commented, “I’m a bit emotional yes. It’s not easy to win titles and so many times. Winning is always special. The day I don’t get emotional when I win is the day to go home.”
This victory will give the players a massive confidence boost to push on in our charge for a top 4 finish. I seriously think that we will finish second in the league, and of course we’re still well in contention in the FA Cup and Europa League.
How do you think this Cup final victory will impact our league form? Is a second place finish in the league too far fetched?
Leave your thoughts below!
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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Manchester United are ready to offer Memphis Depay to Southampton, in a bid to sign Sadio Mane according to reports.
The Dutchman has failed to hit the ground running at Old Trafford following his £25 Million pound move from PSV last summer.
Memphis 22, hasn’t scored a league goal for the club since November and has more often than not found himself sitting on the substitutes bench.
It’s reported that the winger has already held showdown talks with head coach Louis Van Gaal over his future and according to the Daily Star, United are ready to let him leave in the transfer window.
Southampton boss Ronald Koeman is said to be a huge fan of Memphis and is keen to make a move for the winger sooner rather than later, with Memphis already attracting interest from the likes of Liverpool and Paris Saint German.
Mane has been on United’s radar for some time now and remains on the club’s wish list as they look to bring in a host of fresh talent this summer.
Another day, another transfer mill around Manchester United.
The Express along with a number of Spanish outlets are reporting that Andreas Pereira is in talks with Spanish outfit Malaga about a move in the summer while United would look to bring in Southampton duo Sadio Mane and goal keeper Fraser Forster, the latter amid fears of David De Gea leaving Old Trafford.
For any United fan, the potential departure of Andreas Pereira is a difficult but realistic pill we may have to swallow.
The Brazilian was undoubtedly the best performer on the U.S. pre-season tour, putting in a number of good performances, including against current Champions league holders Barcelona, and was looking like having a break-out season in the first team.
Unfortunately, things have not panned out that way. Pereira has again been forced to be a constant shining light in the u 21’s while awaiting another chance to push his case for a start in the top side. After scoring a free-kick against Middlesborough in the Capital One Cup, again, Pereira pushed his case for first-team action.
As this article is written, the attacking midfielder is still awaiting a starting birth in the Premier League. Pereira even expressed a desire to go out on loan, but Van Gaal turned down the option.
With reports suggesting Louis Van Gaal could stay for yet another season, the unfortunate departure of Andreas Pereira seems likely. You cannot blame the player for becoming disillusioned with life at Old Trafford, especially considering the number of injuries and other young players who have been given an opportunity to shine, while Pereira sat on the periphery of the team.
Here’s hoping this is simply a rumour-mill, or the Red Devils can prepare themselves for the possibility of Paul Pogba case 2.0.
Mane would be a great addition to the side, but I do not see how a winger compliments the departure of an attacking midfielder. Regardless of whether this is true or not, there’s no debating Peirera has been badly mistreated.
The other concern amongst United fans is what feels like the inevitable departure of Spanish international David De Gea. The classy goal-keeper was a fax-machine away from becoming a Real Madrid player and considering his heroics this season, it is worrying to think where United would currently be positioned without him in-goal.
Forster is a very solid goal-keeper but he is not the calibre of Manchester United. If the Red Devils are unable to keep hold of the Spaniard, they should seek Stoke’s Jack Butland who has proven he is capable of world-class saves himself this season.
All the rumour and innuendo reaffirms the need for stability and leadership at Old Trafford. A Director of Football is a necessity if United are going to begin to get any fluency about their future ambitions, otherwise we risk falling further behind than we already are.
Over to you, Ed – please sort it out.
Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand
Man United slump to uninspired 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford against mid table Southampton.
After the 1-0 victory at Anfield last week many fans felt confident about today’s game at home to the Saints. It wasn’t a performance to write home about but, it was a victory, it was against Liverpool and it was at Anfield.
For many though, the confidence was shattered when the teams were announced and Marouane Fellaini’s name appeared in the starting XI.
For weeks, Fellaini has contributed very little to the squad and fans have been calling for him to be dropped. But with Schweinsteiger and Carrick injured, van Gaal may have felt he had no other option, preferring Herrera in the number 10 role.
As the first half progressed is was looking more and more like we were going to have to sit and watch another goalless draw. Nothing was happening in the final third. There was little movement and again we played the sideways passing that really gets on everyone’s nerves.
In the entire first half United only registered one shot on target and that was a 40 yard strike from Daley Blind that went straight at the Southampton keeper. There were approximately five or six attempts in total in the first half and they were all shots taken from outside the box in desperation, and none of them troubled the keeper.
At half time the crowd were lifted slightly. A cheer rang round the stadium as Juan Mata came on to replace Fellaini. The change seemed to be a positive one as United upped the tempo and began putting some pressure on Southampton, but without managing shot at goal, the positive change was short lived. An injury to Matteo Darmian meant a short break in play which took the sting out of United’s game. Southampton took advantage of this and brought the game to United.
The Saints created several chances and eventually got their winner late on in the 87th minute through debutant Charlie Austin who headed the ball past de Gea from a free kick that probably shouldn’t have been given.
The loss means that United remain in 5th but the gap between them and Spurs grows to five points.
The result has left many fans, including myself, fuming and calling for Louis van Gaal to be sacked. United have now only won to of their last ten league games and it cannot go on any longer. Something has to change and it has to change now.
Let us know how you feel after that game and what you think needs to change. Do you think the manager should be sacked now or do you still believe he can get us top 4 by the end of the season? Comment below.
Who is to blame for the poor performances and results?
- Louis van Gaal (65%, 15 Votes)
- The board (35%, 8 Votes)
- The players (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 23
Watch the United Stand match reaction here or below:
Southampton and England right back Ryan Bertrand is being linked to a move to Old Trafford.
Louis Van Gaal has declared his interest in bringing fullbacks to the Club after injuries to Marcos Rojo and most recently Ashley Young.
Bertrand is the latest to be linked to a move to Manchester United. The former Chelsea defender has a Champions League winners medal to his name after playing in that final against Bayern Munich in 2012.
In Munich that night Bertrand had the pleasure of marking Dutch winger Arjen Robben. Bertrand was brilliant that night he had a very good game but somehow didn’t really develop into the player most Blues fans thought he would.
Bertrand joined Southampton on loan in 2014-15 before getting a permanent move to the South Coast in the summer of 2015. Ronald Koeman has really helped the Englishman develop into the player he is today getting a recall to the England squad.
Bertrand has had a very good few games in the England national team most recently in the 2-0 win over France where he started the game and had a very solid match marking Manchester United player Anthony Martial out of the game.
Bertrand has some very good attributes, his good turn of pace being an essential part of any wing backs game. He is also an extremely good tackler not allowing many opponents past him.
Manchester United would really benefit in signing him, he certainly has the big game experience to make it at the reds.
The fee is believed to be something around Thirteen million. When you look at it that’s a very good fee for the player.
Luke Shaw may be back sooner than expected according to Van Gaal, which is a massive boost for the players hearing this news going into tomorrow’s match with Southampton.
Bertrand would be the ideal signing in this position for the Red Devils, he isn’t a risk as he knows exactly what the Premier League is all about. The pace down the left from Bertrand, Depay and possibly Lingard would be fearful for the opposition.
In the Premier League this season he has put the most crosses into the box for Southampton for Saints striker Graziano Pelle. This is the bread and butter of his game.
Would it suit United? in a way it would but, you can’t constantly cross as Rooney isn’t the best in the air .
As usual thank you for reading.
By Josh Bunting
Premier League experienced Sanchez and Pelle reportedly on United’s radar.
Spanish site Don Balon claim that Louis van Gaal told Alexis Sanchez that he could be the ‘cornerstone’ of the United squad.
However, Sanchez has recently purchased a house in London so it’s unlikely he would up and leave to move north just yet. Also, it would be hard to see Wenger selling a top player to Manchester United again.
Another Southampton player is also allegedly on LVG’s wanted list. And that is Graziano Pelle.
The Italian international is a proven goal scorer in the Premier League and could prove to be a great addition to the United team.
But like Arsene Wenger, it’s hard to imagine Ronald Koeman – who holds Pelle in high regard – would allow his main striker to leave. But money talks!
To read the article in full please visit the Telegraph website by clicking here.
What do you think the likely hood of either of these transfer rumours happening is? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Manchester United’s visit to St Mary’s stadium saw them emerge victorious in a thrilling match that ended 3-2.
A brace from Anthony Martial and a goal from Mata sealed the victory for the reds but, they were made to wait almost 20 minutes before their first chance at goal.
Southampton had dominated the first 20-30 minutes of the game, creating lots of chances and putting United on the back foot.
Among those chances came the first goal, scored by Pelle on the 12th minute. David De Gea palmed a close range shot from Mane into Pelle’s path and he cooly slotted home to De Gea’s right, from 12 yards out.
Southampton continued to apply pressure. Including when they weren’t in possession of the ball. However, a brief moment of pressure from United, late in the first half, led to a scrap in the box and the ball fell kindly to Martial. Remaining composed, he turned and tucked the ball into the Southampton goal on 34 minutes.
This was a turning point in the game as Manchester United began to press, in search for a second, before half time.
The second half was a different story. Southampton, who were very well organised and disciplined in the first half seemed to drop off and allow Manchester United to come at them.
And it didn’t take long for United to take the lead. In the 50th minute Martial pounced onto a weak back pass from Yoshida and found himself one-on-one with Stekelenburg. Sending him the wrong way, Martial calmly placed the ball in the far corner.
The following ten minutes saw Southampton attempt to fight. By playing some quick football and running at the United defence, they searched for an equaliser. But this came to nothing and instead it was Manchester United who grabbed the next goal. Memphis cut in from the right and rifled a shot against the post. The ball then fell to Mata who was quickest to react and hit it first time to score and put United 3-1 up.
Now credit to Southampton as they gave united a scare and something to think about when on the 85th minute, Pelle found some space in the middle of the box to head his second goal of the game from a Sadio Mane cross.
Southampton continued to push forward until the final whistle having several shots either blocked by De Gea or going fractionally wide.
Targett (Martina – 45′ )
Romeu (Davis – 56′ )
Ward-Prowse (Long – 76′ )
Darmian (A Valencia – 45′ )
Rojo (McNair – 69′ )
Carrick (Schweinsteiger – 60′ )