Southampton vs. Manchester United: 5 Things We Learned

Scott RomFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2014

Southampton vs. Manchester United: 5 Things We Learned

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    Manchester United drew their final game of the season 1-1 against Southampton to ensure that they will not be playing in any European football next season.

    Their 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park a few weeks ago in David Moyes' last game in charge ensured that Champions League football would be off the agenda, but a win for Spurs on Sunday meant United won't even have Europa League football to look forward to.

    Of course, this is probably a blessing for the club, who will hope to experience the same improvement in the league that Liverpool enjoyed in 2013-2014 without the distraction of extra games in Europe.

    To repeat the old cliche, it was a game of two halves today, with United easily outplayed in the first half, only to come back stronger in the second half. But what did we learn from this game?

Playing Lots of Attacking Players Doesn't Make for Attacking Football

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    Manchester United fans could hardly believe what they saw when the starting line-up was announced today. Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck and Robin van Persie all had a place in the team.

    In the first half, Southampton had 68 percent possession, according to the BBC, with United's attacking players barely getting a sniff of the ball. 

    Michael Carrick replaced Kagawa at the start of the second half, and even without having a blinding performance, it meant United's shape was more natural and allowed them to see more of the ball and create more chances.

    Whilst United fans will enjoy the intentions behind this attacking line-up, it didn't really work on the day.

Mike Dean Needs to Brush Up on the Laws of the Game

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    When looking at the FIFA Laws of the Game, Law 5 reads: "The referee must stop the match if a player is seriously injured."

    When Rickie Lambert elbowed Nemanja Vidic in the face, the referee should have stopped play straight away. Blood was pouring from Vidic's nose, and half an hour after the incident, despite further treatment during half-time, his nose was still bleeding. Whilst referees usually blow the whistle at the slightest hint of a head injury, it was strange that Lambert was allowed to continue whilst Vidic lay on the floor.

    Referee Mike Dean allowed play to continue, and United, with a defender down, conceded. Lambert had all the time in the world to slot the ball past David de Gea.

Juan Mata Is Quality

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    Mata scored a fantastic free-kick to earn United a point this afternoon, making it six goals in his past six games for the former champions.

    Whilst it took him some time to settle at his new club, Mata has recently produced the type of performances you would expect from the club's all-time most expensive player.

    Having not been picked for Spain's squad when at Chelsea, Mata will be hoping that his decision to join United will be vindicated with a seat on the plane to Rio this summer, following regular playing time and goals at United.

Vidic Will Be Hard to Replace

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Vidic had a fantastic game for United today and showed the fans exactly what they will be missing next season when he's playing for Inter Milan

    According to FourFourTwo Stat Zone, he recovered the ball 10 times for his team, more than any player on the pitch, and completed all 14 of his clearances (again, more than anyone else). Only one player on either team made more interceptions or blocks than him, and only two players won more aerial duals. When you bear in mind he did most of that with a busted nose, that's quite some feat.

    Vidic has been a fantastic defender for United over the years and he will be greatly missed.

Luke Shaw Is Just What United Need

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    Luke Shaw put in a great performance for Southampton today amidst rumours that he is set to leave the club for Manchester United this summer.

    According to FourFourTwo Stat Zone, he won all of his tackles and all of his aerial duals; on the attack, only two players managed to draw more free-kicks than him.

    For such a young defender, it's incredible what confidence the 18-year-old plays with, and his only blot on the day was a cynical foul on Januzaj.

    If today was an audition, he passed with flying colours, and United fans will be more than willing to have him in their team next season.