Southampton earned themselves an impressive point on Sunday afternoon as they drew 1-1 with Manchester United at St Mary’s, and fans will have been delighted with the way that Ralph Hasenhuttl adjusted his side to ensure that they weren’t overwhelmed by the Red Devils.
The Saints were perhaps fortunate to go in ahead at half-time, as Che Adams’ strike was deflected past David de Gea by Fred, whilst Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had a couple of attempts cleared off the line by Mohammed Salisu.
Despite being ahead, Hasenhuttl recognised the need for change and introduced Jan Bednarek at half-time, with the Poland international playing the second 45 as a right-back, with teenage sensation Tino Livramento pushed further up the pitch.
Although the 18-year-old was hugely impressive in the first half, Hasenhuttl was perhaps right to protect him after the interval when you consider the attacking talent that United possess, particularly with the way Paul Pogba has started the season on that left-hand side.
Bednarek, with the added protection of Livramento, was able to help contain the Frenchman more in the second half, and whilst he did pick up the assist for Mason Greenwood’s equaliser, the away side created very few clear-cut chances because of Southampton’s improved defensive shape.
Whilst you might feel that a manager making an early change to improve things is not something which deserves great credit, Hasenhuttl has come under a lot of criticism for his refusal to make alterations in the past, particularly last weekend when he waited until the game was lost at Goodison Park to make any meaningful changes.
The Austrian also deviated from his usual 4-2-2-2 setup late on as he introduced Ibrahima Diallo to switch to a three-man midfield, which offered the Saints more control in the middle of the park, which helped them weather the United storm and create good chances of their own, so they could’ve even earned all three points.
Southampton fans must therefore be delighted that Hasenhuttl’s tactical changes helped earn them a point and will be hoping to see him continue to improve and adapt things throughout the season when there is a need to do so.