Mauricio Pochettino’s Saints outfit will be doing its utmost to finish off a fine campaign in style when it hosts Manchester United at St Mary’s on Sunday. The visitors, by contrast, will be keen to serve up a fillip of positivity for their supporters after a turbulent season.
The Red Devils could actually qualify for the Europa League with a win down on the south coast, although they’d be relying on Aston Villa taking all three points from their clash with Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Southampton fans will do their best to enjoy this final game of the season, with a summer of transfer rumours regarding their best players somewhat inevitable. Their two star performers—Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw—have both long been linked with big-money moves to Sunday’s opponents, per James Dickenson of the Express.
Pochettino himself has also been linked with a move away from the club, and he was a little blase when quizzed on his own future and that of his key players, per Sky Sports:
I’m here, no? I have the same goals and the same wishes and I want to be successful, ambitious and always improve as a manager.
Many things are spoken about and there are a lot of rumours flying around right now. This Sunday a project of five years will come to an end and then it is up to the board to discuss with me the new project I will be starting next season.
It’s not really up to me to decide when those talks happen but the club overall has to explain to me what this new project is going to consist of and how it is going to start next season.
Whilst there is little tangible riding on this clash, with the pressure off, both teams will play in a free-flowing fashion that is sure to make for a gripping spectacle.
Here’s all the information you need on where to catch this final-day clash live on the box and via a stream:
Date: Sunday, 11 May 2014
Time: 3 p.m. BST, 10 a.m. ET
Live Stream: SyFy Now App (US)
TV Info: Live on SyFy (US), Highlights on BBC One at 10:25 p.m. (UK)
United may have stumbled upon a new hero in midweek, as 18-year-old debutant James Wilson bagged a brace in a 3-1 win against Hull City. For a player so young, he showed remarkable poise and is surely set to start again for Ryan Giggs’ team on the final day.
It was an encouraging glimpse into the future that offered a shaft of light at the end of a dismal campaign for the Red Devils. In truth, you suspect the vast majority of the fans want this season done, filed away and never to be spoken of again.
On the road, Man United enjoyed plenty of success, though, noted here by fan account IconicUnited:
On the flip side, Southampton have enjoyed a very fruitful campaign. Their fans will remember playing United back in 2005 on the final day, needing a win to stay in the Premier League. The Saints were relegated that day, but nine years on, they’re an established top-flight club with a host of vibrant young players.
Pochettino did splash the cash in the summer to land Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama and Dani Osvaldo, but it’s the progression of the young players that has really caught the eye throughout this season.
Shaw has developed into a scintillating left-back, whilst Lallana is now regarded as one of the most potent attacking midfield players in the division. There have also been major improvements in the games of Jay Rodriguez, Nathaniel Clyne, James Ward-Prowse and Steven Davis, making for an exciting future for the Saints.
Both teams love to play with an attacking swagger, and that should see us in for an entertaining game here. The clash looks set to be the final appearance for plenty of United icons, with Nemanja Vidic certainly leaving and uncertainty still rife about the futures of Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand. Giggs is also set to bow out after a long and decorated career.
Could the likes of Shaw and Lallana come in to help fill that potential void next season? It’s certainly not out of the question, but both sets of supporters should just sit back and enjoy this clash ahead of what promises to be a wholly significant and highly stressful summer for both teams.
I suspect we’ll see plenty of goals on the south coast, with Pochettino’s team just having the edge over the Red Devils.
Prediction: Southampton 3-2 Manchester United