Tricky start continues with tough trip to the South Coast for Fergie’s 1000th league fixture.

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Transfer deadline-day wheeling and dealing has distracted attention from this weekend’s Premier League action, and as such, much of the prospective action has gone unmentioned. As a result, a momentous Manchester United milestone has drifted somewhat under the radar, as the Red Devils travel to St. Mary’s for Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1000 league match in charge of the club. With this in mind and with Southampton yet to register a point on their return to the Premiership, Ferguson’s men will be hoping to breeze to an easy three points. If only it were that easy.

Form

After a seven year absence, Southampton have finally regained their top flight status after a roller coaster journey which saw them plumb the depths of league one, before rocketing back to the Premier League. Back to back promotions are no mean feat, and as we saw with Norwich last year, they will be a tough nut to crack. However, after their near heroics on the opening day of the season at The Etihad, Southampton slumped to a disappointing 2-0 loss at home against Wigan. Whilst this may give some cause for optimism for the United faithful, they will themselves be worried at 3 losses in the last 4 away games.

Match-up

The South Coast club’s style is reminiscent of last season’s surprise package Swansea, with high tempo pressure over the pitch and slick, neat passing play. Set up with two sitting centre midfielders, Schneiderlin and Davis, Adam Lallana is given the task of linking play between attack and defence. This will be a key battle ground, with Southampton likely to play on the counter attack, as they did to such great effect against City.

The return of Michael Carrick in midfield for United could be a much needed and welcome inclusion. Ricky Lambert up-front will be supported by two wingers, likely Puncheon and Jay Rodriguez, the former Burnley striker, who could exploit the gaps behind Rafael and Evra, if the two fullbacks get over-eager.

United, in the past seasons, have often relied on scintillating wing play to yield the necessary goals. However, with the addition of attacking midfielder Kagawa, and the slick movement of the Dutch marksman Robin van Persie, they have shown a greater propensity for mixing it up. This variety of play produced some marvellous passages of play against Fulham, and will make it much harder for the opposition to draw up a counter-plan. Along with the likely return of either Jonny Evans or Rio Ferdinand, United could be fielding something close to their strongest possible XI, and this is certainly bad news for the crowd at St. Mary’s.

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Predictions

Whilst Southampton will often threaten to get themselves on the score sheet, having scored 49 goals on home-soil the previous season, their defensive liabilities will be shown up by Kagawa, RVP and co. Coupled with a starting XI that could actually see four defenders start for the Red Devils (surely not!) I predict an entertaining match up, easily won by Manchester United, 3 goals to one.

Ollie

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61 Comments

  1. I’ve heard Buttner starts at LB, not sure how accurate it is but he’s impressed everyone at the club in the very short time he’s been here.

  2. Views on tomorrow’s game lads, what to look forward to and what to expect?

    I really hope we have Evans back tomorrow which would allow Carrick to be pushed further forward into his more accustomed role in the centre of midfield. I think we will be much better when he plays his natural position. He’s defensive stats are very impressive however he doesn’t impose himself enough in my opinion and he is not the type of player to boss the midfield.

    Here is how I think we will line up….

    ……………………De Gea……………………..
    Raf………….Vida………Evans………….Evra
    ………………Carrick….Clevers……………..
    Tony V……………Kagawa………………Nani
    ……………………..RVP…………………………

    Its good to see that we are beginning to play a more continental system such as the 4-2-3-1 or its slight variant, the 4-2-1-3. This is defo the way forward if we want compete both domestically and in europe. I know our performances in the 1st 2 games haven’t been great however seeing as we are trying out a new system with new players means I think we have much to look forward to! Still think we should have strengthened the centre of our midfield, we should have gone for Moutinho! At 22mill it would have been a great piece of business! I guess Fergie does know what he is doing and thats why he has been so successful!! In Fergie we TRUST! I really hope our midfield players will be sufficient for the long season ahead but something at the back of my mind tells me that this will not be the case! Too many times we were outdone in the centre of the park by not just the big teams but also the smaller teams (no disrespect to them).

    I predict a 2-0 win for UNITED and Kagawa as our stand out performer.

    Your opinions on tomorrow’s game and our expectations for the season ahead?

    • @Racs: I think the game will give us an opportunity to see how the team will fare without the need of a makeshift back 4.
      All eyes on RVP to see in he’s embedded into our attack and whether he will make more of an impact interacting with Kagawa. More of the Carrick/Cleverly combo please, and, for crying out loud, could De Gea take a step forward in defending the cross. 😯 .
      Clearly a landmark game, lets get it right!!

  3. For the record.
    Out of the 999 league games, he’s won 598, drawn 233 and lost only 168.
    He fares much better at home, with a 355/95/49 tally – that’s a winning percentage of 71% 😯 😯 , and an average of about 2 loses a year at OT, sustained over 25 years. 8) 8) .

    • @Redrich:

      Wow those are pretty crazy stats! I def agree with a Carrick/Cleverley combo! Carrick as the holder/deep lying playmaker and Cleverley as our box to box midfielder linking the play with Shinji and our two wide men with some neat combination play! He is a good passer and a good worker, I’m sure we will see much more of him this season especially after lasts when he was out for most of the campaign! There are definitely things to look forward to and lets hope the team starts clicking as from tomorrow! Can’t wait to see the Kagawa/RVP partnership blossom!

      Come on UNITED!!

      • @Racs: Oh I think the opposite. Carrick attacking and Clevers holding. But we both wont get our way, because they will both play deep to protect and to feed.
        Nani and Vally wide with support from Rafael and Evra, both cutting in to support the RVP/Shinji spearhead.
        In warfare very little goes according to plan, so expect our best laid tactics to be thrown out the window when something unexpected happens. Sh** happens then sh** happens!! 😐

  4. Bit tricky today. hopefully the lads will show up with the right attitude as am sure, irrespective of the losses, that Southampton will be fired up and raise their game.

    if we turn up then we will win

  5. Ian, could you please suspend top 2 players in the RedRants FFL? That would move me to the top spot 😛

  6. This is my team for the next couple of games,would help us get the defensive stability that our team requires when we have the ball and when we are without it.Evra is a much better crosser of the ball than Young,he usually gets past his man.He can track back and support buttner if need be.

    ……………………De Gea……………………..
    Raf………….Vida………Evans………….Buttner
    ………………Carrick….Clevers……………..
    Tony V……………Kagawa………………Evra
    ……………………..RVP…………………………

  7. I’m hoping that United will hammer Southampton today, Evans at the back should give us a bit confidence to attack more.
    Plus, I reckon Kagawa will be our player of the season. I like everything about the way he plays.

  8. We have done it before,when Heinze was playing for us.Worked like a charm,though it was champions league football.Cant remember the side though.

  9. Confirmed Starting 11 guys….

    Lindegaard, Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand , Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa,Welbeck, Van Persie

    Surprised to see Rio back so soon!! Thats going to be a welcome boost! No Nani again!

  10. Man Utd:
    Lindegaard,
    Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra,
    Valencia, Cleverley, Carrick, Welbeck,
    van Persie, Kagawa.

    Subs: De Gea, Evans, Giggs, Hernandez, Nani, Scholes, Powell.

    Not sure I like the choice of Danny BOI (Bambi-On-Ice)… but with Nani and Chicharito on the bench, we have options if we need them. Good to see Rio + Evans back and Carrick in Midfield.

  11. so glad young isnt starting! today is a chance for welbz to prove his worth- he might be out wide but I am sure he will get a chance or two.
    If nani gets on he better deliver because he needs to show us some quality

  12. welbeck has the touch of an elephant and god is Rio so slow. I like Rafael but to be a premiership right back you need to be a bit more built

  13. 1st half is over. Yawn.

    Our tactics are odd. Go through center with Kagawa. If that doens’t work use Valencia on right-wing. If that doesn’t work, give the ball away.

    They are shutting down Kagawa by flooding the gap between midfield and defense, forcing Valencia out wide where they double team (by ignoring our empty left wing). In my eyes, the solution is blatantly obvious:
    TAKE OFF WELBECK WITH NANI AND USE LEFT WING TOO.

    🙄 🙄

    PS: We’ve been poor, with only RvP as decent performance. Welbeck and Carrick need to improve a level or two.

  14. its got nothing to do with our midfield or tactics….. simply put our defending is useless

  15. 24 F*cking million for that when it’s glaringly obvious we need a new defense and a competent midfielder.

  16. we are paying for the imbalance we started with I.e. tactical blunders. so common am not surprised at all. we should spend the international break looking for a tactical coach

  17. RVP you beautiful man. Hatrick hero- you beautiful, beautiful man. Great mentality to come back after the penalty

  18. RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!RVP!

    credit to Nani for picking himself up and Hernandez whose off the ball talents are often overlooked. Finallt Scholes man the guy can go on till 80 and we wont know the difference

    • @RMJ: absolutely agree on chicharito point. he might not be scoring but the fantastic off the ball movement is world class and opened up space for others such as rvp to do their thing. I actually think rvp chicha combo in a 4-4-2 is the best but unfortunately it won’t happen much

    • @RMJ: Definitely agree re hernandez. With rooney out it should definitely be rvp, hernandez and then welbeck in terms of the pecking order.
      Would quite like to see a hernandez-rvp combo up top, but im still a little un sure i want to see the 4-4-2 return on a regular basis, especially with kagawa starting off so impressively.
      Definitely needs to be given games more regularly however, and especially over welbeck at this moment in time.

      • @tonymontanna4united: Spot on, Sir! Use Nani over Welbeck, De Gea in goal, and bench Evra for Buttner. Then use same tactics as today, but allow both wings and Kagawa to be active. There is NO answer for this 3-pronged attacktic, except The Bus. Bring it!

  19. Play Scholes in all the matches . Cleverly does not know anything except passing back.

    And can someone giver Hair Dryer to Fergie..

    • @Owen: Coming on with 30 minutes left on the clock suits scholes down to the ground. Southampton were starting to drop deeper and allowed him the time and space on the ball to make the difference.
      But as for starting him, well thats a bit different and i think its time we moved on from that.
      As for back passing, well as great as scholes can be, again lets not sugar coat scholes and his ablity, as in a hell of a lot of games he is the true definition of negative and playing anti football, making pass back after pass back anytime anyone gets within 10 yards of him. As i say, if we use scholes (and giggs) like we did today, with 20/30 mins to go, then yes they can definitely do a job and im happy to see that. Problem comes when they start game after game as will inevitably now happen with the likely mass hysteria and over reaction because of this game.

  20. Van Persie :

    “We were a bit lucky with the 2-2 and the dramatic end. I have to say a big thank you to Paul Scholes. When he came on, every single pass he hit was the right one. With him you are always on your toes. For me, he was the man of the match.”

  21. Thoughts on todays game:

    1. Pick a keeper and stick with him instead of this stupid rotation poicy which only causes more harm than good. In my mind its de gea everytime.

    2. Nothing new here but evra needs to be dropped. Give buttner his chance.

    3. As craig has said many times before, valencia is a homer. Great player for the home games, but away he is far too easily nuliffied. In my mind he shouldnt be playing in games like this.

    4. Welbeck as a LWF? Not again please. Play him central or, as i feel, dont play him at all.

    5. Play nani. Ok i get hes as inconsistent and frustrating as hell sometimes, i feel the same about him too despite being a big big fan. But again despite him not doing much he still ends the game with an assist, as he has done countless times before.
    Like with rooney, who plays like shite but scores a goal so understandably starts the next game, the case should be the same for nani. 25 goals and 25 assists in his last 2 seasons makes him our most dangerous outfield player apart from the strikers.
    Start him now on in.

    6. With evans now back he should be starting. Vidic hasnt been great since his return but he deserves the benefit of the doubt. So rio for me should now be fazed out.

    7. Get kagawa on the ball as much as possible. We didnt do that today, and so understandbly he had a poor game.

    8. Good luck rooney, welbeck, hernandez in getting a place in the team now ahead of the new boy. Rvp shows his class with very few genune chances and still gets a hat trick. Fantastic.

    • @tonymontanna4united: good points.On Kagawa, did you notice how he was reluctant to pass out wide, while Cleverly-Carrick kept moving the ball out wide, defeating the point of Kagawa. Nice dynamics going on there in our “midfield”. Also, Carrick was really poor today with his passing, though nothing compared to Evra-Welbeck joke on left wing.

      • @Opti: I did mate. Its bound to take a while for the players to get to know each others games though i suppose. Kagawa is just such an un manchester united type player in terms of where/how he plays, that it must be weird for the midfield to now find some one like him to pass to centrally rather than having to give it out wide at every opportunity.
        Certainly someone like kagawa has been badly needed for some time and definitely adds another dimension to our attack, but habits die hard i suppose so it might well take a season atleast for us to fully adapt to the way he likes it to be played if at all, as we all know how stubborn fergie can be and how poor our tactical team are.

  22. The good: Chicharito, RvP, Rio+Vidic
    The bad: backwards 1-touch passing, Evra, Welbeck, tactics
    ___________________________

    Nice comeback by United, though, it should NEVER have come to this point. Fergie is f***ing us up with his inept tactical maneuvering. How poorly balanced were we today for 65 minutes? I mean, if tactics do not adapt during a game, then my name is BOI. Every game Fergie puts out a team, which gets countered and he just sits and watches while we struggle to do basic things right. Southampton were playing basic football by countering Kagawa and Vally and we had NOTHING in response besides grinding and grinding the same lame ideas.

    Then, Fergie has somehow started to bench players for “poor” performances (Rooney, Nani, De Gea) and he keeps Evra and Welbeck in starting 11… has he gone mad? Evra was at fault for both goals (slipping/positioning and not pressuring incoming crosser for 2nd and 1st goal respectively) and Welbeck lost possession EVERY time and looked like his 17 year old self — Wastebeck! What is the point of rotating GKs considering the utter failure of his Carroll-Howard merry-go-around.

    We were poor ALL game with lack of ideas and no one beating their man to create opportunities. Once Chicharito and Nani came on we abandoned the “continental” approach for our good old 442. Chicharito caused the corner which indirectly led to our 2nd goal and his positioning gave us a corner for 3rd goal. Of course, with quality of RvP in the box, anything is possible and we ended up winning.

    Look at Arsenal: 3 games, 0 goals conceded. United: 3 games, 5 goals conceded. This was our problem last year and we blamed porous defense on Vidic injury and Evra. It’s all Evra.

    Fergie get tactical help please!!

    PS: I didn’t mention our midfield, because we don’t have one.

  23. We should be worried about our defence. Vidic seems to have lost a step or might be just rusty and get back into his old form in a couple of games hopefully. Evra, Rio, Rafa are substandard in defence and GK is shaky. Lindegaard still seems a bit more stable than DDG although DDG is a much better shot stopper. Smalling Evans might be our best bet once they return from injury

  24. hope hernandez starts next game with rvp- they could be a lethal partnership- he was fast and movement was very good

  25. I dont mind Fergie’s ruthlessness…it usually means that the players are on their toes, we dont have any dressing room prima donnas and rotation means our players are always bordeline fully fit..i think buttner will play this season but he will blooded in the capitol one cup.

    As for Carrick today, he did well cos we had continous stream of possession but he gave away the ball and that mostly down to our lack of openings due to the tactical steup of being too one sided. Kagawa was mentioned as always open but he wasnt today due to the fact that Welbeck was in the middle than on the left…its always these tactical mishaps thats killing us these days…we have a top squad but we seriusly need to up our thinking game.

  26. Carrick and Cleverly are not the answer. Carrick was really ponderous in possession which negated any hope of effective thrusts to the heart of Southamptons defense – and I’m assuning that was what they were trying to achieve with RVP, Welbeck and Kagawa all starting.
    Cleverly, for his part, was tentative and seemed confused by the role he asked to play. He seems comfortable playing either a deep or forward role, but is not ready for the B2B prime time. I like the Anderson/Cleverly partnership we saw last week – with Anderson playing the wrecker and Cleverly scooping up the scraps – seemed to work better at controlling the middle third.
    What we saw today was a return of the AWOL midfield – when it was challenged they just backed up and played deeper. It gave Southampton more possession than they deserved, and us, less opportunistic than we should have had.
    We didn’t go get ourselves a big CMFer and so a lessen needs to be learned about getting the partnership right.

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