London: Charlie Austin scored the winner with his first touch in a Southampton shirt to pile the pressure on beleaguered Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal.
Southampton’s Charlie Austin (third from right) celebrates scoring against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday. Pic/Getty Images
United supporters once again vented their anger towards Van Gaal after watching their team put on yet another dull, uninspiring performance at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Boos rang out around Old Trafford at half-time and following the final whistle as Saints recorded only their second win at United’s home since 1988, but also their second in 13 months. There was no doubting who the home supporters blamed for this latest insipid display. Van Gaal was jeered at as he walked down the tunnel. The message was clear — he is no longer wanted by some of them.
United’s fans had every right to feel let down by the United manager.
Dour stuff by United
This was dour stuff from United, possibly the worst performance of what has been a forgettable season. And they are now five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with 15 matches to go.
United too often shifted the ball sideways and backwards, which caused groans from the home supporters. And when Austin rose unmarked to power in James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick in the 87th minute, it came as no surprise.
United offered next to nothing in front of goal. Fraser Forster had one save to make all match.
Van Gaal claimed in his programme notes that United had started 2016 "well", but the home fans who were put through yet another dreadful 45 minutes must have disagreed.
Yes, results had improved recently, but the style of play has not. United were often ponderous in possession and seemed too nervous to pass forward. Daley Blind provided Forster with his only test of the opening 45 minutes, but the England goalkeeper had little trouble collecting the Dutchman’s long-range shot.
Wayne Rooney dragged a shot wide and Anthony Martial tried to chase a short backpass from Virgil van Dijk, but otherwise there was little optimism from the home supporters.
Leicester’s Vardy shines
Meanwhile, all looks rosy again for Leicester after a return to winning ways coincided with Jamie Vardy ending his goal drought in a 3-0 victory over Stoke which sent the Foxes top of the Premier League on Saturday.
The doubting voices were beginning to increase in volume and number as Claudio Ranieri’s side stuttered, winning only one of their previous five league games — and seven in all competitions.