5 Things We Learned: Manchester United 2-1 Southampton

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By Chris Mortlock

1. Kagawa is slowly starting to adapt

It’s fair to say that Shinji Kagawa has struggled to adapt to English football. Although the Bundesliga and the Premier League are similar in terms of style of play, the English game is a tad more physical and that’s what the Japanese playmaker has struggled with most. In England you’re not given a moments peace, with opponents harassing you before you’ve even took a second touch, and with Rooney dropping deeper this season, it’s made nailing down the number 10 role that much harder for the former Dortmund man. With a full strength team, Kagawa will more than likely be deployed on the left of midfield, and although I’d much prefer to see him play through the middle, he can still influence a game when playing out wide. He’ll always look to come inside and find space – as he did to assist Rooney’s first on Wednesday. I’ve said it before, this guy has the potential to be a key part of our team – especially in European games – he just needs time to settle in. We’re now starting to see glimpses of what he’s capable of, and who knows, he could recapture his Borussia Dortmund form even before this season’s out.

2. It’s all De Gea’s fault, apparently

Another game, another finger pointed at David de Gea. A poor back-pass by Michael Carrick put the Spaniard in an awkward situation. Usually good on his feet, he was beaten to the ball by Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez, who nicked the ball past him before slotting it into an empty net. Yes, some of the blame must be put on De Gea; he could have and probably should have dealt with Carrick’s bouncing back-pass much better. But to solely blame him – as some are – is just ludicrous. There seems to be an agenda against the young Spanish ‘keeper by the media, every mistake is exaggerated and made into a back-page headline. Some might say you can’t afford to carry a goalkeeper still learning the game when challenging for titles, but for me his positives severely outweigh his negatives, we should give him all the time he needs. Is he the finished article? Nowhere near. Does he make mistakes? Yes, but who doesn’t? He has made just as many mistakes as Joe Hart this season, but of course, Joe is England’s number 1, one of the best ‘keepers in the world; there’s no way can he be criticised, how dare you even entertain the thought.

3. Phil Jones: A vital utility

It was clear when we signed him two summers ago that Phil Jones was one for the future. The England international has yet to nail down a specific position, despite now being in his second year at the club. He is regularly utilised in a number of positions depending on the opponent, whether that’s full-back, centre-half or central-midfield. Without players like Jones in the squad, we’d struggle to cope with injuries. As mentioned above, he can play in a number of positions and provides adequate cover for a number of players. While his versatility is vital to our success, what we don’t want to happen is for him to become a ‘Jack of all trades’ type player, a John O’Shea Mark II, if you will (sorry, John) – he has far too much potential for that. If he has got one thing on his side, it’s time. Still just 20, he has years to develop his all round game before even thinking about settling in one position. Hopefully, though, when he does, it’ll be at centre-half.

4. A win’s a win

When reflecting on a season, you’ll often look at the games played against the so called big teams to determine where things were won and lost. If we’re to regain our Premier League crown this time around, there’s no doubt we’ll all point to our away victories over City, Chelsea and Liverpool; they’re the ones where we‘ll say we effectively won the title. It’s a cliché used by Sir Alex, but it’s usually the wins you have to grind out that are the most important. The midweek games against teams fighting against relegation; games that often end 1-0. Although Wednesday’s game didn’t finish 1-0, we certainly had to grind out the win. Watching Southampton in the final twenty-minutes was like watching United; we were camped in our own half, and at times our own penalty area, unable to get out. Southampton outplayed us for the most part and were unfortunate not to come away with at least a point in all honesty. When it’s all said and done, though, and we’re (hopefully) celebrating our twentieth league title, cigar in hand, spare a thought for this game as it’s one we could quite easily have lost.

5. We’ll be playing Southampton next season

There was a national crisis within football last week after Southampton owner, Nicola Cortese, sacked manager and fan favourite Nigel Adkins. ‘How dare an up and coming English manager be treated so disrespectfully’, they cried. The people outraged by it are probably the same people that were calling for his head earlier on in the season. Typical. Adkins was replaced by former Espanyol boss Mauricio Pochettino; a man who knows little about the English language, let alone the English game. If you watched Southampton on Wednesday night, you’d never have guessed, though. They kept the ball well and had the lion’s share of possession – something we’re not used to seeing at Old Trafford. If they play how they played on Wednesday for the remainder of the season, they’ll be looking to break the top ten, never mind fight against relegation.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Nice to see some plaudits for the Saints. We just need to be a bit more direct, no point faffing around with it outside the opposition’s box. Can’t see City catching up with you this year let alone you slipping off the pace.

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