|Manchester United 3 v 2 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 2nd March 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Saints At Manchester United The Preview
Friday, 1st Mar 2019 11:45
Saints hit the road to Old Trafford a place where we have had a reasonable record in the past few years, but as I have said before this is a free hit, anything we get is a bonus.
Saints supporters who have claimed that if Saints had kept all their players they would have been regularly in the top six would do well to look at this fixture and compare the two clubs. I am not a fan of United by any means, but when you look at their income you see why football is so polarised nowadays.
United can spent £100 million or more year in year out and not blink an eyelid, they can generate this though the supporter base, they sell more shirts in Disneyworld in Florida than the average Premier League club sell in total.
Even in the total disarray of the last few years, in the last 5 seasons the lowest they have finished is 6th and Jose Mourinho got them to 2nd last year, they have also won the FA Cup, League Cup & Europa League but this for them is a bad period.
When we played them three months ago they were at the bottom of their slump yet they were still in the top six, it was a game we should have won, a two goal lead and then the usual poor defending seeing us throw it away although a point is a point, we could really have done with all three and so could Mark Hughes who was sacked shortly after.
Now though things have changed for both sides, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has transformed United and although some Saints fans have been panicking, Ralph Hasenhuttl has done the same for Saints, the fact that we are still so low in the League down to as much Mark Hughes poor performances than anything since although Hasenhuttl's impact could have been much greater but for the errors of some of his defenders.
As I have said this is a free hit in the sense that although all games are equally important, when you go to the Big Six clubs you are not expected to win or even get a point, so if you do so then it is a bonus, lose and you are only doing what everyone else is, draw or dare I say it win and it is truly a bonus.
Saints season will not be defined on this game at Old Trafford, it will be defined by the win against Fulham or the defeats to Cardiff City, these are the games that get us in and out of trouble, a defeat is a defeat but it should be noted that we are not a bad side, but we are a side with certain players who make errors, a manager cannot legislate for that, it is frustrating for him when all the hard work on the training ground is completely undone by a slack pass or a defender losing concentration and losing his man to present an easy goal.
We cannot do much about that at the moment, but we can hope tat we have cut out some of these errors and that as against Fulham we can win the games that we can win draw the ones that we can draw and pick up the odd point we were not expecting.
We travel to a United squad decimated by injuries, so much so that they may struggle to put out a starting XI that has cost them £500 million, that is the depths they have plunged too and the measure of how good a manager Solskjaer is to be able to work with a squad that cost such a pitiful amount.
I don't expect to see much of a change for the trip, perhaps Shane Long in for Charlie Austin to offer hard work and chasing, possibly Matt Targett will return in some format, but truth is most of the team that started the game on Wednesday night is playing well, it is only minor tactical decisions or individual errors that will change Ralph's game plan.
Can we get a result ? the answer is off course we can, but it will be tough and due to the shortcomings we have and now one is denying that they exist these days, we will need more than a slice of good fortune.
We have to be prepared for a few twists and turns yet and this is a weekend we have to hold our nerve, if we lose at United it is not the end of the world, we have to hope that other games go our way, March is going to be a month for patience and holding our nerve and not going into meltdown if we drop back into the bottom three because others are playing and we are not.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has done a great job, we have to trust him not because we have no other choice but because of the results he has achieved 18 points from 13 games, that's 1.38 per game and over a season that is top 10 form.
So hopefully we will get something at Old Trafford, but if we don't then we lick our wounds and go again.
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