“Hi Rob,” says Parameswaran. “What happened in that match on 20th February 1993? Did United beat Saints?”
No, but Ryan Giggs did.
Both teams are unchanged, United for the fifth league game in a row. I’d have to check to be sure, but I think the last time that happened was also against Southampton on 20 February 1993.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Pogba, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.
Substitutes: Romero, Bailly, Mata, Pereira, Fred, James, Ighalo, McTominay, Williams.
Southampton (4-4-2) McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Redmond; Ings, Adams.
Substitutes: Gunn, Vestergaard, Vokins, Smallbone, Hojbjerg, Danso, Ferry, Long, Obafemi.
Referee Chris Kavanagh.
A man called Sir Alex Ferguson used to manage Manchester United. You know this, I know this, but most of all Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows this. Ferguson’s achievements will harass his successors like black dog, at least until one of them wins the league. But comparisons with Fergie’s time needn’t always be so odious. By achieving something for the first time since he retired, the current team can send a message that they are going in the right direction – that they are, in Paul Pogba’s words, a “proper team”.
In December 2018, in Solskjaer’s first match as caretaker manager, United scored five in the league for the first time since Ferguson’s final game. They won the next seven matches, too, before regressing towards the mean with a vengeance. The feelgood mood of yikesitisreallythatlongago has returned in the last few weeks, and if United avoid defeat tonigh they will extend their unbeaten run to 18 games. That would be their longest run since – you got it, hotshot – Ferguson’s last season.
Southampton are a dangerous counter-attacking side – only Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea have more away points this season – so this will be a good test of United’s progress. They now know they need to finish in the top four to qualify for the Champions League. Helpfully, a win tonight would put them third.
Kick off 8pm.