Southampton and Manchester United played out a goalless draw at the St. Mary’s on Wednesday.
A Manchester United side bereft of a number of first-team players struggled over to get over the line and snatched a point against a Southampton side that looked up for picking up a victory against the Red Devils.
United had their defence and more importantly their goalkeepers Sergio Romero, who had an amazing game as he kept out Manolo Gabbiadini’s penalty and made a number of saves to keep his side in the game.
The Saints’ torrid recent run at home continued as they failed to score for the fourth straight game at the St Mary’s. For United, the result had very little bearing as all Jose Mourinho wanted was to keep certain players match fit.
The Argentine literally spared United the blushes on Wednesday and saved them from an embarrassment in their last away game of the season. Due to reasons unknown, Mourinho decided to start with Romero, leaving David de Gea out of the matchday squad.
It proved to be the correct decision as he managed to save the first penalty by any United keeper since October 2014. If that isn’t impressive enough, he made a total of six saves and claimed two crosses.
He showcased why he is Argentina’s number one and staked a claim for de Gea’s place in the first team.
Wayne Rooney continued to justify his critics with another abject performance against a determined Southampton outfit. At the start of the season, Mourinho said that he did not see Rooney as a midfielder, but someone who will contribute in the final third.
Sadly, that has not happened, and Rooney has looked searching for answers the entire season.
He started as a number nine, but failed to have too much of an impact. He struggled to find space as he was closely man marked by the Saints defenders, and he did not look to the be at the level United need if they are to pose a realistic title challenge next season.
Also, he occupies a considerable amount of the club’s payroll, and it may be best for him to part ways with them come the end of the season.
The Italian forward’s name was on the lips on many a Southampton fan after he hit the ground running since his move from Napoli in January. He has bagged four league goals in 10 matches and also grabbed a brace against Manchester United in the EFL Cup final.
However, he suffered an injury a few weeks after, and on his return, has not managed to replicate the same form that saw him become Southampton’s talisman and Wednesday night was more of the same for the Italian.
Mourinho set his side up to be solid defensively – which saw Gabbiadini struggle to find space, and thus get a shot on goal. He tried to outwit the centre-back pairing of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, but ended up second best on most occasions.
To cap it all off, he missed a penalty, and that pretty much summed up his entire outing.
Analysis of Impact
Marouane Fellaini’s performance shows why he should start in the Europa League final
The Belgian has been maligned by the United fans and has been seen as one of the reasons why the club is not performing as well as they should be. However, against Southampton, he came back from a three-match suspension and solidified United in midfield.
He was neat and tidy with his passes and boasted an accuracy close to 90 percent when he was withdrawn for Ander Herrera. He also completed 50 percent of his tackles and won all of the five aerial duels he competed for.
Fellaini went off injured in the second half, but Mourinho said that it was nothing major. The Portuguese is expected to give the midfielder the afternoon off on the final day of the season, but will start him against Ajax in the Europa League.
Romero justified Mourinho’s faith in him
Sergio Romero’s record for Man Utd this season:
11 clean sheets
Always reliable. 🙌pic.twitter.com/NfG9Fs8nfV
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 17, 2017
Mourinho has used Romero in the Europa League regardless of the fitness of de Gea, and confirmed that he will be fielding the Argentine in goal against Ajax. While it may have come as a shock to many a United fans, Romero did enough to merit his place in the lineup.
Also, the Red Devils are yet to lose a game with the Argentina international in goal, which shows exactly how vital he has been to the team this season. The stat above shows just why Romero is regarded as one of the best backup goalkeepers in the world today.