Seeking an improvement on recent drastic form on our own patch by Philip Morrissey
A familiar sinking feeling over the past three seasons. Pre-match optimism of a good performance and result, being deflated by yet another tepid display. Last year, saw the dismal return of twenty-seven goals scored in front of the Old Trafford crowd, and being kept blank on five separate occasions. And if we did score, it was generally a case of being unable to build on it and desperately hanging on at the end. The idea of our ground being a fortress became somewhat of a distant memory. The theatre of screams rather than dreams.
And yet it was not always like this. The mere idea of visiting us used to fill opposing teams with dread. Often it would be that upon entering the pitch, they already would have lost. The great Ferguson sides would have drawn teams into a false sense of security, and then hit without warning. From being in the game and playing well, to find yourself two or three down in no time at all. Even if it was approaching the final minutes, and you found yourself ahead, it would not be enough. The pressure would tell and they would eventually crack.
Has this change purely been down to tactics from the previous two managers? A whole raft of unwelcome records has taken place during the period. From the lowest number of goals at home, to the least amount of goals scored in the first-half, to teams securing their first wins there since the middle-ages, it has not made for great viewing for the home fans. If there was any doubt as to the support of the reds fans, then this spell has shown their commitment to the cause. Attendances has remained high and extremely vocal.
If there is anyone that is more synonymous with home strength, it is Jose Mouriniho. The Portuguese made his name through an incredible record from Porto to Real Madrid. For all the accusations of being dull away from home, his teams were renowned for being explosive at home. Different styles for different occasions. The last year at Chelsea brought this to a shuddering halt however. Four defeats at home for a defending champion is clearly unacceptable and lead to his dismissal. To put it in perspective, it was around the same record that David Moyes had by that stage.
Over the last three seasons, Southampton have come away with seven points. In those games, Manchester United have scored one goal. If there is any opposition that we need to start changing our record here. The nervousness that our play has characterised, must be replaced by determination and speed. The first chance for the home supporters to see the summer signings in action, and possibly the second debut of Paul Pogba, should see a lot of expectation. It is up to the players to return that faith, starting tomorrow night.