Man United abject in uneventful, goalless draw with Southampton
Manchester United have produced several goalless draws over the last three seasons, but none have involved a more abject performance from them than this. Having seemingly accepted that they will not seal qualification for the UEFA Champions League via their league results, they largely plodded through a match against a Southampton side who by the final whistle had scored in only one of their past five games. There was precious little to get excited about from either side, with the exception of a saved Southampton penalty in the first half and an Anthony Martial strike against the woodwork in the second. This will not be a match that graces the end of season highlights for either team.
Sergio Romero was assured, even imperious, from the very beginning, and Axel Tuanzebe was quietly confident in midfield.
The team lacked intensity all over the pitch, with almost everyone half a step too slow in thought and deed. Even Eric Bailly looked short of sharpness. The passing and movement was sluggish and invited constant pressure from Southampton.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- The away fans were in magnificent voice, but they did not receive a performance to match. Jose Mourinho sent out a team which highlighted the lack of depth in his squad's midfield and defence, but that lack is his responsibility, and it did not excuse the pedestrian nature of this outing.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sergio Romero, 9 -- Made a brilliant penalty save in the first half which set the tone for his evening. Parried away two second-half shots which came to him through a crowd and came confidently for every high ball. Superb.
DF Matteo Darmian, 6 -- Had another quiet game, rarely venturing into the opposition half. Yet another match in which he was used conservatively.
DF Phil Jones, 7 -- Made some good early interceptions, and aside from one poor challenge on the edge of the area was generally dependable.
DF Chris Smalling, 5 -- Was caught playing the opposition onside on a couple of occasions, and was too hurried in clearing his lines, meaning that United could not build much momentum from the back.
DF Eric Bailly, 6 -- Started the game in unusually rusty fashion, conceding a penalty (albeit for a handball outside the box) and then passing the ball more poorly than he normally does. Recovered after that, though, and had returned to a far more composed level by the end.
MF Axel Tuanzebe, 7 -- Measured and efficient in his passing and movement, if a little unambitious, but did not look out of place in this company.
MF Marouane Fellaini, 5 -- Did not produce much of note in attack, with a couple of nice touches and passes between the lines but nothing like the subtlety needed to unravel this defence. Made some good clearances from his own area.
MF Juan Mata, 5 -- Looked sharp in his movement, but just did not create enough -- which was partly due to the lack of movement around him, but he was not able to impose himself at any point.
FW Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 5 -- He started brightly enough, with some fine passes both long and short, but then faded as he has too often this season, with the odd breakaway not enough to galvanise his team.
FW Wayne Rooney, 5 -- Showed some quality of yesteryear with a fine touch and pass to release Anthony Martial, but then went quiet for a long period before briefly coming to life at the end.
FW Anthony Martial, 6 -- Hit the woodwork and cut in from the flank with some intent, but too often looked isolated in the wing.
MF Michael Carrick, 6 -- Made his 700th club appearance, and he will scarcely have had less eventful games than this. Had little to clean up in midfield.
FW Marcus Rashford, 6 -- Was given some through-balls to chase but was not able to get involved in much of the link-up play.
MF Ander Herrera, NR -- Typically combative from the moment of his introduction, giving United a brief dose of purpose and aggression.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.