They have never battled it out for relegation in the Premier League, or the title, or even for a European spot. In fact for the majority of their mutual inhabitation of the Premier League Manchester United and Southampton have remained at practically polar opposites in the league table … however they have also played out one of the most exciting and bizarre rivalries always seemingly finding a way to make their games memorable.
Saints FA Cup win of 1976, George Best’s mesmerizing Dell performance of 1971 and Ron Atkinson’s last game in charge during a 4-1 mauling which saw the advent of Matt Le Tissier with his first Saints goals, also some guy called Alex Ferguson replaced Big Ron after this game you might have heard of him?
The fixture is full of history and with them in action again this weekend what are the top 5 Premier League clashes between the sides?
The grey shirt debacle of 1996 saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s esteemed side being outplayed by Southampton at The Dell, the stadium that became known as United’s bogey ground.
Southampton stormed into a 3-0 lead at the interval leading Sir Alex to furiously insist on changing strips before returning for the second half. After the game the kit was dropped, never worn again, and United won every remaining game of the season to usurp Newcastle at the top of the table in one of the most memorable Premier League run-ins of all time.
Southampton 6-3 Manchester United (1996)
Obviously peeved at the apparent assist from the shirts Southampton went out to upset revenge seeking Manchester United in the corresponding fixture the following season. This time United sported the infamous ‘Tesco bag’ 3rd kit and were again torn apart by the Saints.
Manchester United 3-3 Southampton (1999)
Until Robin Van Persie’s move this summer the highest amount Sir Alex had spent on a 29 year old was £4.5 million pound for Italian goalkeeper Massimo Taibi, so you know where this is going.
In a game in which Paul Jones made one of the greatest double saves in history only to see his efforts rendered futile seconds later and Marian Pahars bamboozling Jaap Stam throughout; the highlight will always be Matt Le Tissier’s tame and languid 30 yard drive that squirmed under the body of the hapless Italian, trickling past the goal line.
The image of Massimo desperately pulling imaginary tufts of grass from his boot as an attribution of blame is timeless.
Southampton 1-3 Manchester United (2000)
It’s been doom and gloom for United so far but in 2000 they went to the dreaded Dell and put demons to rest by winning the title on the South Coast. Goals from Beckham and Solskjaer; either side of a Francis Benali own goal saw United claim the title in April, finishing off a rampaging title tilt with much time to spare.
Southampton 1-2 Manchester United (2005)
Before Southampton faced Manchester City in the opening fixture earlier this month their previous Premier League game was also against a Manchester side, 7 years previously. Harry Redknapp’s Saints were relegated from the top flight of English football for the first time in 27 years after Ruud Van Nistlerooy grabbed the winner at St Marys.
Now back in the bigtime, these two go at it again on Sunday in one of the Premier Leagues classic clashes.
Can Saints do it again, or will United conquer?
image: © ingythewingy