Manchester United winners, losers and ratings as Fernandes ends miserable road slump
Manchester United ended a run of seven straight defeats on the road with a 1-0 win against Southampton on Saturday, as Bruno Fernandes’ second-half strike secured a first away victory since beating Leeds 4-2 in February.
Erik ten Hag’s side have now won back-to-back games after seeing off Liverpool on Monday to put their miserable start to the campaign behind them. Manchester United had lost their opening two games to plunge the new manager’s reign into crisis – but the table looks a lot healthier after successive wins, with £60 million signing Casemiro making his debut as a late substitute.
There will be fresh questions about the futures of Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo, who were both left out of the starting line-up again, but that will be a question for another day as the Red Devils will be pleased with their performance at St. Mary’s.
For a long time it looked like a deeply frustrating day for Fernandes, given his poor use of the ball and failure to take one of two chances during a first half goalmouth scramble.
But he did what he does so well by providing the crucial goal that secured three points for United.
Ten Hag needs to find the best way to incorporate him in his midfield – but he is a match-winner and that is what makes him so important to Manchester United.
David de Gea:
His second half save proved vital when Joe Aribo got the wrong side of Raphael Varane and powerfully headed towards the target.
De Gea’s used quick reflexes to push the shot away from close range to maintain Manchester United’s lead.
He was at fault for at least two goals in the 4-0 defeat to Brentford – but here he was ensuring Manchester United held on for the win at St Mary’s.
There is a lot to like about the left-back – and it hasn’t taken long for him to force his way into the starting line-up ahead of Luke Shaw.
Tenacious defensively and ambitious going forward, right now it is his position to lose.
United might have unearthed a gem in the Netherlands international, who cost just £13 million.
Left out for the second game in succession after Ten Hag warned him the captaincy wouldn’t guarantee a starting place.
These are early days in the season, but the signs aren’t good for the England international – especially ahead of the World Cup.
Ten Hag wants to establish a consistent centre-back pairing and Varane and Martinez are the ones being given the chance to stake their claim.
Given another shot at the point of attack – but was nowhere near as effective as he was against Liverpool.
Looked lost at times in the first half and was barely a threat on goal.
Should have gambled to get in the box to meet a wicked cross from Eriksen, but was nowhere to be seen.
That’s three games out of the first four this season that Ronaldo has been left out of the starting line-up.
His lack of pre-season was the reason for his absence on the opening day of United’s campaign against Brighton – but he has had three weeks since then to work on his conditioning.
He is now out of the team for tactical reasons, which will not sit well with the Portuguese legend.
Will he still be here when United are next in action – against Leicester on transfer deadline day?
Manchester United Ratings: Defence
David De Gea (7/10):
Stunning save denied Aribo from close range. Needed that after his nightmare at Brentford. Still a great shot-stopper.
Diogo Dalot (8/10):
Growing into his role as first choice right-back. Pushed high up to keep United on the front foot. Picked out a clever cross for Fernandes to score and late clearance also denied Southampton.
Raphael Varane (7/10):
Good anticipation in the air when Southampton were more direct – but had to rely on De Gea when allowing Aribo to get goal-side of him.
Lisandro Martinez (9/10):
Good aerially and utterly dominant on the ground. That Brentford game is well behind him now. Looks a fixture in the heart of defence.
Tyrell Malacia (7/10):
Loves to engage and threw himself into everything, either in the air or on the ground. Got forward well in support.
Scott McTominay (6/10):
Won some important headers in the air and tried to run beyond Southampton’s midfield. Good energy and put in a defensive shift as United were pushed back late on.
Christian Eriksen (8/10):
Precise passes helped in congested areas – and his first half cross deserved to be finished by someone. Unfortunate to see effort blocked during goalmouth scramble.
Bruno Fernandes (7/10):
He is a game-changer and his goal did precisely that. Still questions over his use of the ball and ability to retain possession – but the quality of his finish was beyond doubt.