However, the result was hardly deserved, and head coach Louis van Gaal has Robin van Persie to thank for leading the club to victory. The Dutchman’s brace rewarded the side who registered just three shots across the entire game, and his performance was arguably better than the entire Red Devils side combined.
It was the first game in over a month that saw van Gaal revert to his 3-5-2 formation, and the change in tactics has largely been to blame for the lacklustre performance shown against the Saints. Paddy McNair and Chris Smalling both started in the centre of defence alongside Marcos Rojo, but Smalling had to leave the field through injury after just 18 minutes - being replaced by Jonny Evans - and McNair showed his lack of experience by almost gifting Southampton a number of goals. He was subsequently taken off the field, and Michael Carrick dropped into the back-line as cover.
Even following the shoring up of the defence, United never looked secure, and their performance offers little hope for the challenge they face next weekend, when they host Liverpool on Sunday. Despite Liverpool also faltering, any side could overcome the Red Devils’ performance shown at St Mary’s Stadium, and many are suggesting that van Gaal should drop his favoured 3-5-2 to claim a result against the Merseyside club.
A flat-back four offers much more stability, and it allows the youngsters who have been thrust into the first-team to cope with a system familiar to them, and an incredible 91% of fans want to see van Gaal change from his 3-5-2 when the Reds travel to Old Trafford, according to a poll run by the Manchester Evening News.
It remains to be seen whether the Dutch coach agrees with the majority of his supporters, but, with Smalling likely out of action next weekend, holding true with his three-at-the-back system will once again require Carrick to play in defence, and it seems to be a waste of his talents when he is heavily needed in a still-below average midfield unit.