After last Monday’s exhilarating triumph over Liverpool, Manchester United displayed grit and courage as they pipped Southampton 1-0 on Saturday to record back-to-back wins for the first time since February.
The hosts made it tough as they threw bodies forward and bombarded the box with crosses towards the end of the contest but the defence stood strong and in the end, came away with a well-earned clean sheet.
United had the better chances and were on top for most of the game. They should have been a goal to the good heading into half-time but for some impressive last-ditch defending from the Saints.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side occupied the central areas and gave very little time to the midfielders to pick their passes. The goal ultimately came from some fine wing-play by Diogo Dalot, whose cross was swept home by Bruno Fernandes.
Rashford still not ready
Marcus Rashford, who was deployed as the striker just like against Liverpool, had a quiet game and could not really impact proceedings.
There are no negotiations ongoing between Memphis Depay and Real Sociedad despite rumours, as things stand. Memphis situation remains open. 🇳🇱 #FCB
He’s included in Manchester United list but nothing advanced/concrete yet. Antony, priority – and it could also depend on Ronaldo. pic.twitter.com/FjFEgep79n
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 27, 2022
The Mancunian is great when balls are played in behind the defence, but when it comes to playing with his back to goal, there is still room for improvement.
He also fails to gamble inside the box when crosses are delivered and does not possess those predatory instincts that strikers usually have.
Erik ten Hag knows his side is one injury away from trouble and he has time and again reiterated his desire to add more quality and depth with the games set to come thick and fast.
While Antony remains the Dutch manager’s primary target, Ajax have been playing hardball over the price. The game at Saint Mary’s was tailor-made for the Brazilian, who is known for maintaining the width out on the right and is a great crosser of the ball, unlike Anthony Elanga.
Depay the best option for United
The other name in the fray is former United player Memphis Depay. He is stylistically similar to Martial and has far superior fitness levels. The Barcelona forward would be a perfect back-up option in case Ronaldo leaves.
The Dutch international has experience of playing down the middle and would be prepared to gamble inside the box in order to get those scruffy goals, unlike United’s current options.
Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano wrote in his exclusive Caught Offside column that after the deal with Juventus collapsed, Depay is waiting for another big club to come in for him with United monitoring the situation closely.
“As for Manchester United, there have been some contacts between the player and Man United to explore the situation. The Red Devils are keeping an eye on the situation in case they run into problems with other deals,” Romano says.
Real Sociedad, who recently lost Alexander Isak to Newcastle, were credited with a loan move for the 28-year-old but the player and his entourage have made it clear that he has no intention of moving to the Basque club.
With Martial proving to be injury-prone as ever, and Rashford’s struggles playing up front, United could do a lot worse than Depay. The Dutchman still has a soft corner for the club and he would be willing to come if an offer were to be presented to him.