Manchester United fall to fourth place after defeat to Southampton
Louis van Gaal was forced to defend his tactics and team selection after Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday (Jan 12).
Victory was the visitors’ reward for a disciplined and intelligent display, but United misfired badly in attack.
In fact, they failed to muster a shot on target in a home league game for the first time since a 0-0 draw with Arsenal in May 2009.
Substitute Dusan Tadic’s 69th-minute goal earned Southampton a first victory at Old Trafford since January 1988, which allowed Ronald Koeman’s side to climb above United to third place in the table.
Van Gaal's side have now taken just six points from a possible 15.
He argued that Southampton had been “lucky” to avenge their 2-1 loss to United in December.
Asked if United had struggled to bring the ball out of defence, he replied:
“I don’t think so, because we were the dominating team.
"You have seen that today (Sunday). That for me is not any question.”
Van Gaal also had to explain his decision to omit Radamel Falcao from his 18-man squad, having selected 19-year-old striker James Wilson ahead of the Colombia international.
With Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Angel di Maria playing after injury, Van Gaal said he needed defensive and midfield cover on the bench and had plumped for Wilson over Falcao “because I know I want speed in attack”.
In the end, Van Gaal threw Marouane Fellaini on as an auxiliary striker, but Juan Mata squandered late chances to equalise when he failed to convert a pair of excellent opportunities that Blind created.
Sources: AFP, Twitter, VK.com