Manchester United Away Lost 2 – 0
It was ironic that Southampton’s dreadful new away kit should get its first competitive outing against Manchester United, the club who famously changed their equally dull outfit as an excuse for a disastrous first half at The Dell. This first game in the Friday night Premier League schedule was notable for giving a first start to an expensive overseas signing, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg getting the call ahead of Ward-Prowse. United for their part gave a headline grabbing return debut to Pogba, which meant a difficult task for the Saints midfield who soon lost a key figure in Romeu to injury. Substitute Clasie, ahead of Ward-Prowse, seemed lightweight for the task, but he did OK for his season’s opener and, without being creative, Saints were generally OK throughout – until Rooney was given time to measure a cross from the right corner flag and Ibrahimović arrived late to tower over Fonte, now restored to the side. An away goal rarely looked likely, but the ball did end up in the net early in the second period when a header from Tadić seemed to round off nicely a move involving a cross from Targett and a knock back from Soares. It didn’t look an offside situation from the distance of the visitors’ seats, but the linesman’s verdict was proved correct. There were few complaints about another decision at the nearer end, but this time replays showed Clasie may have been unlucky to concede a spot kick for a foul on Shaw. Ibrahimović converted, and you could have expected United to go on to complete an emphatic victory, with Ibrahimović going home with the match ball. It didn’t happen that way, with a Mourinho team again favouring caution and counter-attack to ambition; the manager’s predecessor may be wondering how he gets so much praise while all LVG got were jeers and the sack. On the other hand, the Special One did become the first United boss since Alex Ferguson to beat Saints on his own ground, and it’s results that matter really. Anyway, that sort of talk is falling into the same mood as the Manchester-centric press, so what of our own side? Claude’s first away game was at the same stadium and with the same outcome as Pochettino’s first match in charge, so there’s not necessarily too much to worry about, but I have to return to the lack of replacements for Pellè and Mané; without them, where will the goals come from?
LSSC Man of the Match: Duŝan Tadić, such a shame his goal didn’t count. Actually Clasie might have got the award, but for his part in the second goal.