What shocks me more about that quote is not the fact that this was the Saints first victory over United at Old Trafford for 27 years but rather that after Christmas United find themselves looking up at the Saints who are now in third place.
What’s worse is that Southampton played well and deserved the win. Hardworking, disciplined and playing with absolutely no fear at Old Trafford the visitors were well worth their win and it shows how far Ronald Koeman has moved them on from the success of previous seasons. It’s well worth noting that Southampton, only four years ago, were playing the likes of Bristol and Tranmere Rovers.
Back on 18th of October I wrote an article about the rise of Southampton called – Southampton 8 Someone Else Nil. In it I discussed how Koeman was the new model of Premier League manager who could take a successful team and take them to the next stage. Remember, when Mauricio Pochettino left the Saints? Many people called time on the team’s success then. Furthermore, when many of their star players were picked off by the top team’s, success of this level seemed beyond the them. In fact, few gave them any chance of a top half finish. However, Koeman came in and had £100Million war kitty to fund new purchases, however, the Dutchman resisted the urge to buy big and instead bought very wisely. He has since shown his coaching acumen and man management skills with some great victories in the league. In addition, he has got the very best out of the Southampton players and Louis van Gaal could learn a thing or two about an organised defence.
To quote myself: “He (Koeman) has instilled one hell of a fighting spirit in the team and it is this spirit that United seem to lack currently. Fighting spirit can make the difference when the chips are down, however, you don’t get fighting spirit without confidence.”
I said that back in October and nothing has changed, in fact Southampton were 4th in the league at that point and suffered a four game losing streak and yet still find themselves in 3rd place today! Their performance is really top four stuff and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Southampton survive the rigors of a Premier League season and hold on to a top four place, probably at the expense of Arsenal.
I just hope that the Manchester United players are shown a video of the game because it will be a master class in how to defend and how to take your chances.