Southampton 2-0 United (Sims, Stephens)
A Shocking performance from United down on the South-coast, provoked Warren Joyce to provide the most honest of assessments in a post match interview (more on that later) As United failed to create anything up top and misfiring when they did, losing 2-0 to Southampton.
The game was fairly even in the first-half, United lined up without an out-and-out striker again as James Weir slotted in up top. It was a poor night all round from himself which was unusual from the ever reliable Prestonian.
Weir missed two clear chances to score in the first half, as the opportunities were so few it was damaging not to even hit the target when they did come about. Matty Willock looked impressive as a midfield runner getting the team forward as much as he could.
But as soon as the second-half began Southampton looked the better, more effective side. United kept the ball well in an overloaded midfield but never showed any penetration to really cause any harm to the Saint’s net, with the lack of striker really hampering the side.
Whereas it was Southampton who were finding the key passes, with the large frame of Olufela Olomola going through on goal he looked certain to score, only for a gallant last ditch block tackle from Axel Tuanzebe. However Tuanzebe could do nothing about the opening goal minutes later as his headed clearance fell to Josh Sims who’s strike flew past Dean Henderson with the help of a slight deflection, a deserved lead for Southampton.
Harrop responded, getting a low shot off which was well saved by the the keeper, but Southampton were just too strong for United. Winning what seemed like their hundredth corner, it resulted in Stephens heading in unmarked leaving Henderson no chance.
At this point United’s usually resilient defence was in danger of caving in on itself as Olomola’s shot sailed just over the bar after a neat counter attack from Southampton. Soon after the busy Josh Sims drew a save from Henderson who parried it straight into the path of Olomola, only for the keeper to safely pounce back on the ball.
The lack of attacking presence which made the game very functional and monotonous last week against Leicester returned again on the South coast. United simply had no penetration or pace up top, relying on set-pieces to create chances. Josh Harrop’s corner was flicked intelligently by Devonte Redmond only for the impressive Harrison Reed to clear off the line. Overall a reality check for the new look side.
Man of the Match: Despite a wobbly 10 minutes in the second-half Axel Tuanzebe had a typically strong game at centre-back, and he had to be as Olomola was a very physical presence for the Saints, which Tuanzebe dealt with well. Made a fantastic goal-saving block tackle in the second half and was unfortunate with both Southampton goals.
Talking Point: With so many players going out on loan the past week, and many more still due to be shipped out temporarily. Is this damaging the reserve side too much? United severely lack a striker up front, Ashley Fletcher joined West Ham, James Wilson is now at Derby on loan and Rashford in the first-team, someone needs to come through and help see the return of the thrilling attacking football we saw last season.
Line up: Henderson, El Fitouri, Poole, Tuanzebe, Riley, McTominay, Harrop, Willock, Redmond, Kehinde, Weir
Subs: O’Hara, Mitchell (El Fitouri), Whelan, Scott, Sang
Warren Joyce’s MUTV Tirade
“We looked like a group of individuals just thrown together”…
“This group are almost deluded really, as to where they’re at”…
“I think I’ve got a little bit more ambition than some of them they have for them to have successful careers”…
With an MUTV outburst almost exceeding Roy Keane’s in 2005, Warren Joyce was frank, ruthless and most importantly honest in his assessment of the match against Southampton and the preceding weeks during pre-season.
If anyone disagrees with anything Joyce had to say, I’d love to hear their reasoning as he was spot on in this case. This is the man who made sure the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford kept their heads screwed on going into the first-team. His meticulous detail and man-management is vital to United’s youth set-up and this interview could prove a turning point for a lot of under-performing players in his side this season.
“There’s one or two who have been in and around the group, while not necessarily in the team, for a while now, and they’ve got to look at the players that have gone in the past and what they’ve had and what they’ve given and what they’ve done, and how much desire and drive they have to play for the club and try to play for the first-team.” Harsh, but I can think of which players he is indirectly referring to.
Joyce’s job is made much harder when so many of his top performers are plucked from his grasp and placed at a Championship club on loan. He then has to dip into the under-18s and so on, so on, as reflected by the appearances of Tanner and Sang on the bench the other night. He has ground out some impressive results playing players out of position yet still drawing the best out of them.
However this season might be one step beyond for Joyce who faces his toughest challenge yet, so much so that if United were to retain their Premier League 2 title this season with this squad it would be nothing short of a miracle.
James Wilson faces another stint in the Championship as he has joined Derby County on loan. His time at Brighton last season was very hot and cold. I feel Wilson has it in him to achieve a higher rate than 5 goals in 25 appearances at that level, hopefully this time round he can make the move work for him and force his way into Nigel Pearson’s and eventually Mourinho’s plans.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson faces his first ever loan move, heading to Wolverhampton Wanderers. The team looks very promising this year under Walter Zenga and, of course, a Chinese consortium ownership. CB-J is good enough to start in the Championship and hopefully he can hold down his place in the side, I feel he should be the back up to Luke Shaw in the first-team at United, but this is the next best thing for him as Mourinho has assured him he has long-term plans for the Mancunian.
Tyler Blackett leaves the club on a permanent basis linking up with former red Jaap Stam at Reading. Following a disastrous loan spell at Celtic last season, which saw him practically go missing for 6 months, this is probably the best option for the Hulme-born defender. The 20k per week contract was far too premature for the defender and it changed supporters perceptions of Blackett, who did only achieve 3 appearances since the bumper new contract.
The 5-3 loss at Leicester will be remembered for Blackett being sent off and giving away a penalty, but as strange as it may sound he was having a good game up until then and can offer a lot to Reading, his physicality and long-ball will really suit the Championship. The former can only be improved under Jip Jaap Stam’s management.
Chelsea (H) / Premier League 2 / 28th August / 1pm / Leigh Sports Village