Sir Alex Ferguson admitted to taking a risk by fielding a makeshift defence in Manchester United’s FA Cup comeback 2-1 victory over Southampton.
United manager Ferguson picked new signing Anders Lindegaard in goal for Saturday’s fourth-round match, behind a back four of Chris Smalling, John O’Shea, Fabio and Johnny Evans, none of who would ordinarily be considered first-choice players.
The Premier League leaders went a goal behind to League Two club Southampton, but strikes from Michael Owen and the in-form Javier Hernandez turned the tie around and secured United’s passage to the fifth round.
“In fairness, I maybe meddled with the system somewhat,” Ferguson said after the match at St Mary’s Stadium.
“It wasn’t working at all.”
“It was a nothing first half and the goal, if anything, made us play.”
“We tried a diamond in the middle of the pitch and, of course, Manchester United are used to playing with width all the time and I think that was a problem for us.”
“We had some possession of the ball but we never really threatened. We had two or three shots from the edge of the box.”
Ferguson singled out reserve striker Owen – who seized upon a rare sight of goal to level in the 65th minute – for special praise.
“He only had one chance today: one chance, one goal,” Ferguson said.
Southampton boss Nigel Adkins was proud of his players after they matched the top flight title challengers for much of the encounter.
“I thought it was a cracking game of football,” Adkins said.
“We tried to pass the ball about and we deservedly went in 1-0 up at half-time.”
“In the second half, for the first 20 minutes, we had opportunities.”
“In the end, we were playing against Manchester United and that bit of class told with the finishing.”
“They are top of the league, they’re undefeated in the league, and they have always got ways they can change the game.”