Manchester United recorded their 15th draw of the league season at St Mary’s Stadium as their match with Southampton ended goalless. They put out a stronger starting eleven, with Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but they still failed to cause many problems in attack and that will be a huge concern heading into the Europa League final. Although Jose Mourinho has written off the Premier League as a distraction, recent performances have been poor and they will arrive in Stockholm with little confidence. Here are three things that we learnt on Wednesday:
Jose Mourinho’s poor attitude has been taken on by his players
The Manchester United manager has been stating that he doesn’t care about the remaining league fixtures and that his only concern is the Europa League final. Although the match in Stockholm is the club’s most important game, it is a worry that the manager is showing little care for the Premier League, as it is a bad attitude to have. Based on their performance today, it looks like the players have taken a similar attitude, as they were going through the motions on the pitch. They were the poorer side on the day as Southampton had the better chances, but that was due to the United team playing within themselves rather than the hosts delivering a good performance.
It has been a weird stance for a manager to take and he is on a hiding to nothing if his team doesn’t win the Europa League final. The pressure will be huge in Stockholm and if Ajax lift the trophy, there will be huge questions asked about Mourinho and whether he is still one of the best managers in the world. They will go into the match with no momentum after a string of underwhelming displays in the league and that is not good preparation for a cup final. If he wanted to rest players, he should have used the remaining league matches as an opportunity to let the squad players play their way into the team for the final. However, he has taken a different approach and it is certainly a risky one.
Oriol Romeu could be one of the next to be sold by Southampton
Virgil van Dijk and Ryan Bertrand are both being linked with moves away from the South Coast this summer, but there will be another player attracting interest and that is Oriol Romeu. He was voted the club’s player of the season and deservedly so, as he has taken his opportunity in the first team. The Spaniard was good last season, but he has taken his game to a new level since the departure of Victor Wanyama and there will be clubs across the continent watching his situation very closely. There are few holding midfielders that are more consistent than the former Chelsea man and Southampton may have difficulty holding on to him this summer.
On Wednesday, he completed ten ball recoveries and ended the match with a 100% tackle success rate. That is impressive and shows his worth to Southampton, as his performance allowed them to dominate the central areas. Although he is not known for his passing, he is tidy in possession and takes few risks with the ball at his feet, which is what is required from a defensive midfielder. He completed 95% of his passes and held the team together well. Southampton have had a good defensive record this season and Romeu has been pivotal to that.
Sergio Romero is one of the best number twos in the league
David de Gea has consistently been voted as the best goalkeeper in the Premier League over the past three seasons, but Manchester United have a capable understudy and he played a huge role in the team getting a point on Wednesday night. They could have been on the end of their third successive league defeat if it wasn’t for Romero and that could have had a devastating effect on the team ahead of the Europa League final. The Argentine produced the biggest moment of the game as he saved Manolo Gabbiadini’s penalty just minutes into the match.
It was a great save as he got down low to his right and prevented the hosts from taking an early lead. If he hadn’t have produced that save, Southampton could have run away with the match. During the 90 minutes, the goalkeeper made six saves and looked comfortable in everything that he had to do. He was impressive at organising the back four and controlled his area well. There will be question marks regarding his ability to be number one if De Gea does leave, but he produced his best performance in a United shirt on Wednesday and deserves credit for that.
Featured image: All rights reserved by the Premier League