Southampton suffered the heaviest defeat in Premier League history for the second time in two consecutive seasons as two red cards saw the Saints fall to a 9-0 defeat against Manchester United.
There were eight different names on the scoresheet in a night to forget for the visitors, as Ralph Hasenhuttl had to deal with a ridiculously long list of players who could not play, either through injury or suspension. Jan Valery, who made his first Premier League start of the season in Southampton’s 3-1 defeat to Arsenal, signed for Birmingham City on loan on Deadline Day, so was not in the squad. Michael Obafemi, Will Smallbone, Nathan Tella and Mohammed Salisu were all ruled out before the game, while Jannik Vestergaard, Theo Walcott, Ibrahima Diallo and Kyle Walker-Peters were also major doubts. Oriel Romeu was out injured too. Alex Jankewitz and Kayne Ramsay both made their first Premier League appearances as a result. Meanwhile, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer let Paul Pogba rest after the Reds’ draw against Arsenal; he was replaced by Mason Greenwood.
The drama started within the opening two minutes. 19-year-old Swiss midfielder Jankewitz, making his first Premier League start of his career, clattered into Scott McTominay. With his studs raised, it was a silly challenge from the youngster, who will want to forget his big day. His 72-second debut was very quickly over, and the Saints were down to ten men before the second minute had begun.
Southampton have normally dominated games early on throughout this season, but it was never going to be the case here. United dominated the ball and the Saints’ defence was under huge pressure to keep a clean sheet. It was always looking like it would be difficult.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka broke the deadlock on 18 minutes as he ran clear from makeshift midfielder Danny Ings, who would have been marking him, to meet Luke Shaw’s deep cross into the area. It was a simple shot from inside the six-yard box – but it was only the start of an awful evening for the Saints.
Southampton did muster a chance immediately after this, as James Ward-Prowse hit a brilliant corner into the area, but to no avail.
And they were going to rue this chance of getting an equaliser. Luke Shaw, who had a brilliant game, darted down the left-hand side and found the young Mason Greenwood. He cut the ball back to Marcus Rashford whose shot was simple enough to double the home side’s lead.
David de Gea was not put under lots of pressure during the game, but dealt with it well when he did, and a flurry of set pieces were well handled by the Spanish ‘keeper.
There were several set pieces at each end, and United had a few corners, too – the first was headed away easily by Jack Stephens, with the next corner dealt with by Alex McCarthy after a great drive from Shaw.
The game went from pretty bad to very bad after the half an hour mark, when a well-struck cross from Marcus Rashford was due to fall to the feet of Fred to finish past McCarthy. However, Jan Bednarek managed to do the job for him – a poor attempt to intercept and deal with the ball saw it end up in the back of the Saints’ goal.
A depleted Southampton could not handle Edinson Cavani, either. Shaw, again involved in another attack, whipped the ball into the area which was not dealt with by the Saints back line, and Cavani was given a free header to get United’s fourth goal of the game before half time.
It could have been five at half-time if it wasn’t for VAR Graham Scott. Another unexpected starter, Kayne Ramsay – whose only other Premier League game came against Manchester City back in 2018 – brought striker Edinson Cavani down on the edge of the penalty area. The replays suggested it was too difficult a decision to make, but rather than a penalty, United were awarded a dangerous free kick as Scott overturned Mike Dean’s penalty decision.
At 4-0 up, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have had one eye on the game against Everton at the weekend. He made two half-time changes, bringing Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek on in place of the incredible Luke Shaw and striker Edinson Cavani.
United seemed to stagger through the first ten minutes of the second half, and actually gave Southampton a chance to build some rhythm. Harry Maguire and van de Beek were both booked for rash and poorly timed challenges on Jack Stephens and Stuart Armstrong respectively. Indeed the Saints did pull a goal back as Che Adams managed to work his way into the United box before getting a drive into the far corner to get the Saints a consolation goal.
However, Graham Scott decided that Adams was offside – a decision disputed on social media and, admittedly, by me too – and so he ruled out the Saints only chance of something positive from the game.
There is no actual football fan wanting a goal ruled out for this offside pic.twitter.com/Q7IaBsZNe9
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) February 2, 2021
United soon got back into the game, with large amounts of pressure put on the underconfident Southampton defence. This pressure eventually paid off, with Anthony Martial smashing the ball past Alex McCarthy through a busy penalty area. It was the Frenchman’s first goal in eight appearances for the club.
Shortly after – within just a few minutes – Scott McTominay picked up the ball after Donny van de Beek’s shot was blocked and drilled the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.
Jan Bednarek, who was one of the only players Southampton could say wasn’t too bad, gave away a penalty with around ten minutes to play. The penalty looked harsh – it seemed to be a clash of knees rather than anything else – but, with Martial through on goal, Bednarek was sent off and Southampton were down to nine with an arguably unfair decision. Bruno Fernandes did what Bruno Fernandes does, with a penalty goal for the Reds to take them 7 goals up with a few minutes remaining.
Martial doubled his tally for the day with a well-controlled cross from Aaron Wan-Bissaka, getting the ball down with his chest before smashing it past McCarthy for United’s eighth goal of the evening.
Then, to wrap things up and match an unfortunate record for the Saints, Dan James’ weak touch with his right foot was the ninth and final goal for United in a game which, frankly, wouldn’t have been expected for Southampton. In spite of all the injuries – and the silly decision to offload any depth in their squad (I completely disagree with Valery going out on loan with the team already thin on the ground) – they looked worlds away from the team that lost 9-0 to Leicester last season.
The scoreline has reared its ugly head again and Saints are now desperate for a victory – they take on Newcastle at the weekend to have some hope of recovering any form or reputation! They’ve done it before…
Saints boss Hasenhuttl said:
‘You lose a player after two minutes against this team [and]it’s already tough to compete here without going a man down. With all the players we are missing at the moment, it’s even more tough. We tried to keep the clean sheet in the second half as long as possible but it was tough to defend.’
He continued to tell BT Sport, ‘to concede again nine goals – you have your story now and we have the blame but I can take it. I can take it. We stood up after the first one and we will also stand up after this one. It’s OK‘
FT: Manchester United 9-0 SOUTHAMPTON (Wan-Bissaka 18′, Rashford 25′, Bednarek 34′ (og), Cavani 39′, Martial 69′, 90′, McTominay 71′, Fernandes 87′, James 90’+3′).
Man Utd: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (booked), Shaw (van de Beek 45′ (booked)), McTominay, Fred, Rashford (James 60′), Fernandes, Greenwood, Cavani (Martial 45′). Unused Subs: Bailly, Pogba, Henderson, Telles, Matic, Williams.
Southampton: McCarthy, Ramsay (booked), Bednarek (sent off), Stephens (booked), Bertrand, Djenepo (Tchaptchet 78′), Ward-Prowse, Jankewitz (sent off), Armstrong (booked), Adams, Ings (Redmond 70′). Unused Subs: N’Lundulu, Lewis, Forster, Ferry, Finnigan, Watts, Chauke.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Luke Shaw (Manchester United).
Referee: Mike Dean