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Manchester United can now finish no higher than sixth in the Premier League after slipping to a 15th draw of the season thanks to a 0-0 stalemate against Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday.
United goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved a penalty from Saints striker Manolo Gabbiadini to keep the match goalless. One more point means Southampton took another step to finishing above West Bromwich Albion in eighth place.
Here are the updated standings after Wednesday’s lone result, per the Premier League’s official website.
It was all about Romero from the start as he denied Gabbiadini from the spot after centre-back Eric Bailly had clumsily given away the penalty. Sky Sports Statto relayed a snap of the save:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Manolo Gabbiadini is the 3rd Southampton player to fail from a PL penalty in 16-17 after Tadic & Long #PL https://t.co/J9gFkawy6z
5/17/2017, 6:55:59 PM
The smart stop was just the start of Romero’s busy evening. The Argentinian stopper was in fine form to thwart several Saints attacks, as United sat deep and invited pressure.
Romero’s active display was best summed up by this number from Squawka Football on the hour:
One reason the visitors couldn’t find an answer was their blunt attacking play. It didn’t help when some forwards disappointed on the night.
In particular, Frenchman Anthony Martial came in for criticism from Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News:
Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst
Martial is failing his audition here. Some players look like they know they won’t be starting next week. #mufc
5/17/2017, 8:01:26 PM
As much as Martial may have struggled, he did muster United’s best chance on 72 minutes, when the former Monaco star slammed a low drive off the post.
By contrast, one United fringe player who did catch the eye was young full-back Axel Tuanzebe. The 19-year-old has tremendous potential, and BBC Sport’s Simon Stone called for him to be given more chances:
Simon Stone @sistoney67
Another chance for Tuanzebe. That lad has a future. Hope he gets an opening next season.
5/17/2017, 5:51:35 PM
Tuanzebe’s composed display was enough to get United a share of the points. They barely merited it but had Romero to thank for the clean sheet.
One more stalemate has condemned the Red Devils to an unwanted piece of club history in England’s top flight, per WhoScored.com:
Manchester United: Have now set a club record for the lowest amount of wins in a single PL season, regardless of whether they beat Palace
5/17/2017, 8:39:59 PM
With his side now six points behind fifth-placed Arsenal, BBC 5 live Sport summed what an uneventful final day of the league season United manager Jose Mourinho can expect this Sunday:
BBC 5 live Sport @5liveSport
#SaintsFC 0-0 #MUFC
A #PL record 15th draw of the season for United.
Here are the final day permutations for José Mourinho 🤔 https://t.co/6kkuoJVCMJ
5/17/2017, 8:45:22 PM
Of course, Mourinho and many United supporters likely won’t care how the final table looks if the club beats Ajax in the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday, May 24. A win in Stockholm would put United in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
It would also guarantee a second trophy to go along with the EFL Cup claimed at Southampton’s expense earlier this season.
Whether those prizes truly make up for the disappointment of a tame league campaign is debatable, especially after Mourinho spent big on Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and world-record transfer Paul Pogba last summer.
Yet the United chief will ultimately hope to be able to point to a return to Europe’s premier club competition as proof of a measure of success from this season.