Still The Biggest Show In Town – Southampton 8th December 2014

Southampton were robbed and United, with three goal attempts all night, all from Robin van Persie, scored two of them. This is United’s fifth successive win, three of them have been lucky.

A suicidal backpass form José Fonte in the 12th minute left van Persie to put the ball through the legs of Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster. From here, we thought that United, after a scrappy start would build on and take control of the game, like the good old days.

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What happened for the next hour was what has been happening mostly since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. United were sloppy, sometimes diabolical in possession. Paddy McNair was having such a nightmare that Louis van Gaal took him off in the 39th minute for Ander Herrera. It’s a rare occurrence in England for a player to be subbed before half time with no injury, van Gaal served notice tonight that he wouldn’t tolerate a performance as poor as McNair was giving at any time on the pitch.

By the time of that substitution, Southampton had scored a deserved equaliser on 31 minutes when Marounae Fellaini gave away the ball in midfield. Steven Davis carried the ball on towards the box but with some Sunday League defending by United, Graziano Pellè suddenly found himself with only David de Gea to beat.

United’s night was beautifully summed up in the 61st minute when a Wayne Rooney corner was mishit stright for a goal kick. I’ll be surprised if the ball stayed in play for any more than five yards from the corner. The United fans behind the goal just groaned, the unique type of groan that 3,000 (approx) people can make en masse.

From February 2012, go to two minutes of this video and look at the goal Ryan Giihs scores

Ten minutes after that woeful corner, Rooney sent a free kick to the far post, where van Persie was on hand to score a winner that was almost identical to a winner scored by Ryan Giggs at Carrow Road in February 2012. On that day, that goal stole an undeserved win for United against a staggeringly poor Norwich City. Van Persie did the same tonight.

The most satisfying thing from tonight is the win, it certainly wasn’t the performance. United are getting back into the old habit of winning when not playing well. Southampton fans will moan (and boy, can they can moan down there) about how they dominated the game and they were worth a draw at the very least, but, who said football was fair?

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“Let me at ’em” – Southampton fans being very feisty behind a line of stewards inside the ground. Far quieter outside the stadium

Thanks to SKY Sports, the furthest away trip United are going to have this season was moved to a Monday night. This gave travelling reds a fourteen hour day (or it certainly gave me a fourteen hour day anyway). For the reds who’ve done an overnighter, you’ve got your heads screwed on. For the reds who had to endure a six and a half hour journey home because some dickhead thought it would be a good idea to close off two lanes of the M3, on the night Southampton were at home, you have my eternal respect. During the match tonight, Saints fans were chanting Who Are Ya and You’re Not Famous Anymore at United fans. With a crowd of 31,420, this game has given Southampton their biggest attendance of the season to date. You know who we are. United sold all tickets and I saw several reds outside the Northam Stand trying to get tickets as kick off approached. The league champions, Manchester City, recently sent a block of tickets (approximately 900) back to Southampton due to lack of demand for a Sunday afternoon fixture. Can you imagine what it will be like when United get back on form? It’s still the biggest show in town.

Thanks to Lee Thomas for sorting the tickets out and to Greg Stephens for driving down there (and what a drive it was…)

14 thoughts on “Still The Biggest Show In Town – Southampton 8th December 2014”

  1. Miserable performance but delighted with the three points. Not many teams will leave St Mary’s with a win this season so I’ll take it regardless of the performance.
    In all fairness to Rooney, with regards the corner, when he placed his standing foot on the floor, the patch of grass underneath the ball just raised up and lifted the ball before he could kick it. Very strange incident.

    1. Yeah, having looked back, I can see that. Rooney complained to the linesman at the time of the kick as well. Not sure what the linesman could’ve done about it mind, but I can understand Rooney’s frustration

  2. Thanks again for your insights, Murph. I have to say that when I saw Herrera on the touchline ready to come on, I was convinced that it was Fellaini he was going to replace. Big Dave gave one of his horrible Moyes-era performances last night – not that anyone covered themselves with glory except maybe DdG. LvG should have them working on their passing for the rest of the week. Just hope McNair isn’t too scarred by being given the hook before halftime. Anyway, ho, ho, ho and Christmas has come early. Let’s hope the Dippers are feeling similarly generous at the weekend!

  3. The last time Soton were famous, was with an offside goal in the FA cup final. Experts on not being famous should understand it a bit better. When we play shit, last night for example, we’re famous for that. We are the famous Man United. End of story. Just love being the target of jealousy. Soton, well, after their early season flourish, will settle back mid table. Next season, struggle. Then back where they belong. Second tier footy, for a second tier town. Sorted. We’ll done lads and lasses for that great support.

  4. Murph,

    Sorry mate but I am utterly outraged by your total lack of comment about the atmosphere – were you actually at the match?

    Normally this blog does much to convey the quality of United’s away support, but despite the best away trip for quite some time in terms of noise generated by travelling reds – 15 minutes solid Calypso in the first half/15 mins solid LVG red & white army second half – not a single mention.

    How about you give some credit to the real hardcore reds who actually go to the match as opposed to making it up from the comfort of your damp musty bedsit?

  5. Spot on as per usual mate. It was a piss take getting out of Southampton and their lot rival Everton for being the biggest mards when faced with defeat.

  6. Hi Murph. The attendance last night was 501 higher than against City. I’ve not spent a lot of time searching but i can’t find any evidence that City returned 900 tickets. It was advertised as ‘sold out’ on the City website 3 days before the match. I would also suggest after listening to the (very loud) chants emanating from the United section that a large proportion of fans in that area didn’t actually have the long journey back to Manchester. Listen back to the game and you’d have to agree that if they were a Manchester crowd they must come from the posh side of town! By the way if City did send back 900 tickets that would mean that we were seen to be ‘the biggest show in town’ due to the fact that around 400 more Southampton fans turned out to watch their team against City than against United.That is actually me being a bit facetious because, fact, United ARE the biggest show in town for most teams partly due to them being the most hated (ABU) along with being the most famous. And, Royman, no-one is even in the same league as Everton fans when it comes to mardness (and probably nastiness). They’re not even that pleasant in victory.

    1. Hi Jamie, always good to hear from you. Been way too long since the last time.

      The basis of my reference of City returning tickets comes from the link (written by Southampton fans) below and the figure of 900 is alluded to in the penultimate paragraph. http://www.fansnetwork.co.uk/football/southampton/news/36899/

      The “if they were a Manchester crowd they must come from the posh side of town” is a perfectly valid opinion, if nigh on impossible to prove or disprove. All I can give you is my anecdotal opinion of there being a pretty hardcore and earthy contingent around me in the stadium last night. If there were any caviar eaters amongst them, then fair play to them for turning out on a freezing night by the solent. From my past experience though, I find that fixtures to Southampton on a Monday night (which have occurred on three other occasions since 1992) are not the most enticing to the more posh (if you will) United fans.

      Onto the last point about United “being the most hated (ABU)” being a potential motive for bringing the locals out to watch their heroes against us, I’ve no doubt that’s right. That United, a team who finished in 7th place last season can still induce such feelings of whichever emotion is very reassuring to me. The time for me to worry will be when United are no longer hated. That’s when United will no longer matter. The affection of fans from other clubs is very low down in the priorities of most reds of my friendship/acquaintance.

      1. Like you say, posh or not, there were lots of proper Reds who sang their hearts out last night. Great support from start to finish. That Southampton website seems to be talking sense and it is true, for ages there was no mention of the game then when i looked 3 days before, it was ‘sold out’. Don’t think you need to worry about United not attracting any enmity. United, no matter what, will be a huge club for the rest of my life and for a long time after. Big clubs, especially successful ones, will always be hated in the fan culture that is prevalent nowadays. You’ll never get all of Manchester rooting for a hometown win in a European final like we did in in 1968 and 1970. All the best, mate.

  7. I offered you fourth spot and CL last blog you wrote and you turned it down, now look at you- only title contenders. Football eh?

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