Man United edge past Southampton as Ten Hag’s revolution takes another step forward

SOUTHAMPTON, England — Bruno Fernandes proved Manchester United’s match-winner, scoring the only goal of the game in Saturday’s win over Southampton. A goal conceded and an away win was another milestone as new manager Erik ten Hag tries to get United to play in their own style.

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Here’s our reaction to Saturday’s Premier League clash on the south coast.

GO TO: Player Ratings | Best/worst performance | Highlights and Notable Moments | Quotes after the game | Key Statistics | Upcoming appointments


Fast reaction

1. United build on Liverpool win

After the 2-1 win against Liverpool on Monday evening at Old Trafford, the question always arose: can Manchester United do better?

United did not achieve the same intensity and quality as five days earlier, but Fernandes’ goal in the 55th minute was enough to beat Southampton 1-0 and give them back-to-back victories for the first time since February (188 days). .

Despite goalkeeper David de Gea being forced into a superb second-half save to deny Joe Aribo, United were relatively comfortable – if largely unfazed – as the home side tried and failed to push for an equaliser. Southampton had lost six of their last eight home games in all competitions and they seemed to lack power in attack but this has been a test of commitment and attitude more than anything for United and in that respect they have risen to the challenge. These remain formative days in the Ten Hag era but another win will give him more momentum to continue with Leicester City next Thursday.

2. The misery of absenteeism is finally over

United had lost their last seven home Premier League games, the latest ranking was arguably the nadir of a miserable period – a 4-0 win over Brentford. Saturday’s win wasn’t emphatic, but United looked more organized and compact than they had in many games during that run, keeping a clean sheet on the road in competition (against Norwich) for the first time since December 2021.

This was a different task than against Liverpool as United had more possession (51% against Southampton compared to 30% against Liverpool) and while they weren’t as fluid as Ten Hag would have liked, his team weren’t looking anywhere nearly as much vulnerable when trains collapsed. The arrival of Casemiro should further help this in the future – the Brazilian appeared to make his debut in the final 10 minutes and helped United defend a threatening moment as they headed towards the finish line.

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3. Omissions from Ronaldo and Maguire fuel speculation

“You’ve only come to see Ronaldo,” chanted the visiting fans shortly after his substitution in the 68th minute. Doubts remain as to whether this could be the last chance to see Cristiano Ronaldo in a United shirt after the 37-year-old was once again left out of Ten Hag’s starting line-up.

Speculation continued this week that Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes is looking for a suitable club to offer the striker Champions League football, with Napoli being the latest club to open talks. However, Ten Hag has been positive about planning the season with Ronaldo in the ranks, so an uncertain end to the window is expected.

At least Ronaldo was on the pitch. Harry Maguire watched the entire game from the bench, while Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez showed more encouraging signs that together they would forge an effective centre-back partnership. Could Leicester offer Maguire an escape route back to his former club as Chelsea approach big-money signing of Wesley Fofana? Would he even want to leave the ship?


Player Ratings

Southampton: Bazunu 7, Walker-Peters 7, Salisu 6, Bella-Kotchap 7, Djenepo 6, Lavia 7, Ward-Prowse 7, A Armstrong 7, Elyounoussi 6, Aribo 7, Adams 6.

Subtitle: S Armstrong 6, Mara 6, Perraud 6, Lyanco 6.

Manchester United: De Gea 7, Dalot 7, Martinez 7, Varane 7, Malacia 7, McTominay 6, Eriksen 8, Sancho 6, Fernandes 7, Elanga 6, Rashford 5.

Subtitle: Ronaldo 6, Casemiro 6, Fred 6.


Best and worst performers

BEST: Eriksen, Manchester United.

Christian Eriksen once again occupied a deeper midfield role and continued to give United a series of resourceful passes that they have been lacking with the Scott McTominay-Fred axis.

WORST: Rashford, Manchester United.

Marcus Rashford struggled to build on promise of his performance against Liverpool. Finished with just 28 touches – the fewest of any player to last 90 minutes – and one shot.


Highlights and notable moments


After the game: what the managers, players said

“That has to be the standard for Manchester United,” said coach Erik ten Hag after the game. “It has to be normal, but you also celebrate every win because you have to fight for it. We learned from our lesson at Brentford.

“There is room for improvement, but there was also really good football. The last half hour was a struggle for survival and I think we can do better than that. It wasn’t always pushing the ball, though [the defenders] remained compact and went straight into the duels. I was sure they would take care of it.

“The end [from Bruno Fernandes] was great but the part before that was a team goal. We built it up from the back and there were a couple of moments right after half-time where the team played well. We need to improve ball possession.”


Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

Since making his Premier League debut in February 2020, Bruno Fernandes has scored 37 goals. During that time, only Mohamed Salah (54), Harry Kane (49) and Son Heung-Min (45) have scored more goals.

Man United wins for the first time since February (against Brighton and Leeds). They have not won three or more games in a row across all competitions since April 2021 (five).


Next

Manchester United: The Red Devils travel to Leicester City on Thursday and host Arsenal on Sunday 4 September.

Southampton: The Saints meet Chelsea on Tuesday before traveling to Wolves on Saturday 3 September.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/blog-the-match/story/4730268/man-united-edge-past-southampton-as-ten-hags-revolution-takes-another-step-forward Man United edge past Southampton as Ten Hag’s revolution takes another step forward

Emma Bowman

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