Ahead of United’s clash with Southampton in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday, we caught up with Allen from St. Mary’s Musings to get his take on the game.
The Busby Babe: Did you sell us the wrong Morgan Schneiderlin by mistake?
St. Mary’s Musings: Ha! I often wonder the same thing... I honestly felt bad for the way things went for him at United. Schneiderlin earnt his way out of Southampton, though the situation wasn’t right and he was highly undervalued by LVG. Had to be a big blow for his confidence sitting on the bench when everyone knew what he was capable of.
I’ve got nothing but love for him still. My mate, who worked at Trafford Centre, told us a story when he brought Schneiderlin’s Christmas shopping out to his car that he asked about Southampton. Can only hope for the best for a genuine guy like that.
tBB: Thoughts on how your season has gone so far? Is the Claude Puel appointment working as you hoped?
SMM: It’s definitely been hot and cold, and one that has truly tested my patience at times. Rotation arguments aside, I think injuries have had the biggest impact on our season, which is something we’ve been fortunate in avoiding in previous years.
Puel has done his bits having been dealt a difficult hand. Some people won’t want to hear it, but we were partially let down in our recruitment this summer when it failed to address the loss of Graziano Pelle, as we’ve not scored more than a goal in [something like] 20 out of 25 league games. A lot of people have called for Puel’s head; personally, I don’t think we’re at the stage just yet. The Cup run has been nice and that’s an area managers have been criticised for not doing enough in.
We’re far from steadying the ship, however, according to the #SaintsFC thread, but a win on Sunday would go a long way towards making folks more content at least and that’s a start.
tBB: That Gabbiadini looks handy. Is he the Saints player that United should be most worried about on Sunday?
SMM: Absolutely. He’s had a more than impressive start to life in the Premier League, and is the striker we’ve lacked since Charlie Austin went down with a shoulder injury back. I don’t expect him to keep up the pace he’s scored at, but if he does I won’t be too upset!
I also think -- and I may get some flack for it -- that Nathan Redmond could be in for a solid performance with his pace down the left. If he can put the ball consistently into dangerous areas it makes the aforementioned Gabbiadini that more of a threat.
It is just nice to have someone converting chances.
Oh! If we need a late winner, watch out for our centre back Maya Yoshida, I’d put the house on it.
tBB: When we met in the league earlier in the season, it was a fairly straightforward win for United. Which tactical or individual battles would the Saints have to win to get a different result?
SMM: It’s a really cliché answer, but we have to win the midfield to be successful against United or any team for that matter. It’s been a big issue for us, giving the ball away far too often, and with the quality United has going forward we’ll be rightly punished for it.
Oriol Romeu, who has been key for us all season, will prove the difference if Saints intend to win because of his ability to protect the backline.
tBB: Which United player are you most concerned about facing?
SMM: Ibra. No doubt. Saw some stat that he’s scored in 24 of 37 games for United and his track record speaks for itself. There are still questions in our defence, too. Is it going to be Jack Stephens or Martin Cacerces that will be paired with Yoshida? Stephens struggled against Fernando Llorente (Swansea) and Andy Carroll (West Ham), which have similar qualities to Ibra, so I’m nervous to see how our backline handles him.
tBB: Can we please have Virgil van Dijk? We promise to take good care of him, just like we have with Luke Shaw.
I’m coming to grips with the inevitable fact we’re going to lose him in the summer. Someone of his calibre deserves to be playing in Europe. But I’m holding out that Barcelona comes in for him so we don’t have to face him twice a year!
That or he can go to City to help that mess. [Wink emoji]
tBB: And finally, any predictions for the final score?
SMM: I’ve predicted 3-1 United, though not for a lack of trying on Southampton’s part. United are just on a run that’ll be hard to stop and I don’t think we’ve come against an attack as formidable.