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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.

Photo: Action Images

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bstokesaint added 12:20 - Mar 1
Would like to see us dig deep and go for at least a point. This isn’t a world beating Man U side of yesteryear. If we can keep it tight for the first half at least we can give ourselves something to build on. If we start like we did against Arsenal then we’ve learnt nothing..

HythePeer added 13:17 - Mar 1
The individual errors you talk about ARE the fault of the mangers. They play 5 at the back and bring everyone back to defend so the game takes place in front of goal and any random event or error results in a goal scoring opportunity. They need to keep players and the ball up the other end of the pitch.

SaintBrock added 13:19 - Mar 1
The trick is to crock Pogba and Lukaku early on, also to keep an eye on Ashley Young's dodgy doings and dives and not fall fo them

underweststand added 18:46 - Mar 1
To say the pressure is off may sound strange, but all the World and his brother have already chalked up the 3 points to MU, so it's upto Saints to put on a good show when they match themselves against a team valued at several hundred millions - and a long unbeaten run .

If there is anything to take comfort from it may be that (historically) we have a better away record against MU than we do against Arsenal. Getting one point tomorrow would be a real bonus....grabbing all 3 ....would depend on your prayer life . COYR

SanMarco added 22:41 - Mar 1
Yes - a free hit. The Spuds game is the one we get a little bit of joy from.

By the way - I have never met a Saints supporter who claimed we were going to be regular top 6. There are those who feel we would have been much higher up the table if Les Reed hadn't bought so many duds. Not top 6 (other than in an exceptional year) but regular top 10 was feasible. Seems like a distant dream now though.

I hope we defend well tomorrow - that would give us an outside chance of a surprise point...

skiptonsaint added 09:17 - Mar 2
We had a little bit of luck against Fulham with them hitting the woodwork twice and we are still due plenty more before it evens itself out this season imo. Punished for smallish mistakes a lot.

2 draws in the next two games is possible if the luck continues

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Letters from Wiltshire #09 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #08 by wessex_exile
Lots of discussion this week on football forums, including here, on two subjects – the petition to lobby parliament to allow limited numbers of supporters back into football grounds, and of course the return of that old chestnut from Man City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano, introducing Premier League ‘B’ teams into the EFL. First off, I don’t mind admitting I’ve signed the petition ( https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552036 ), as have 192,779 others at the time of writing, though I don’t actually think it’ll make any difference. I can completely understand why some do not think this is a good idea, as second-wave spikes of coronavirus infection pop up all over the country (mainly because – let’s face it – some people are dicks and can’t be trusted to sit the right way on a toilet). But to me, the two go hand in hand (not dicks and toilets) – whilst football clubs throughout the country struggle financially without spectators, we are always going to be under threat of this sort of ‘B’ team nonsense as a condition of financial support from the Premier League fat cats. They got their way in 2016 with the EFL trophy, who’s to say they won’t again when the financial squeeze really starts to tighten its grip without paying customers through the turnstiles? Robbie has featured prominently in this debate in recent weeks, and looks like he will again on Sky tomorrow if this tweet from Sophy Ridge is anything to go by -
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