Manchester United 0 Southampton 1

Louis van Gaal will not have enjoyed this reversalagainst the Saints, after his side failed to register a single shot on targetthroughout the entire match, against a well drilled unit orchestrated by RonaldKoeman. There are many experts predicting that the Southampton boss could bemanager of the year if he somehow manages to keep his side in the ChampionsLeague places right to the end of the season and if he can keep his mainplayers healthy then, on this performance, they have every chance.

United probably deserved better from a match that JuanMata missed several presentable chances in, but faced a team who knew whattheir roles were and in Morgan Schneiderlin have a midfielder who keeps thewhole unit together.

Angel di Maria was back in the home side’s line-up but heseemed to have forgotten to pack his shooting boots as a number of waywardstrikes failed to trouble Fraser Forster in the Saints’ goal in the first-half.

The away side posed only a sporadic threat themselves andseemed mainly content to contain their opponents and break whenever possible,demonstrating a hard-working ethic and pressing style throughout.

Dusan Tadic started on the bench for Southampton but wasintroduced during the second-half and proved to be the match-winner for the Southcoast side on 69 minutes. The talented Serbian slipped in striker Graziano Pellewhose powerful strike rebounded off the post, but only back out to Tadic in thecentre of goal who happily prodded the ball home.

United should have at least equalised afterwards as Matablazed his shot wide after Forster had flapped at a cross. The Spaniard thenwasted another decent chance from an inviting Daley Blind cross that he failedto keep down and fired another chance wide later on, as a clutch of opportunitiesfell his way in the last quarter of the match.

Questions were asked of van Gaal’s omission of expensivesigning Radamel Falcao from even the bench yesterday, as he tinkered with hissquad yet again, perhaps not totally certain of which players he can fullytrust to deliver on the pitch at present. He brought Marouane Fellaini on in anattempt to pose a different threat to the away side, but as is the norm thatseemed to disrupt United’s flow further as they sought a slightly more direct approachto utilise his expected strength in the air, a move that does not best pleasethe fans of old.

What was not in question was that this was Southampton’sfirst league victory at Old Trafford for 27 years and a result that moved themback up to the lofty heights of third place in the table. Koeman was surely notexpecting such success when he took over during the summer, with many of hisbest players seemingly departing for richer pickings elsewhere, but the canny Dutchmandoesn’t seem to have bought into their supposed demise and instead is developinganother group of aspiring stars. While the title seems a step too far for them(at least at present), the gravy train associated with a top four placing doesnot and they could well upset one of the supposed “bigger” sides by welcomingChampions League football to St Mary’s next season on this form.