Up until the start of last season, only one team had ever been beaten 9-0 in the first 27 years of the Premier League.
Now it has happened to Southampton twice in 16 months.
Manchester United’s 9-0 thrashing of the Saints on Tuesday came after Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were thumped by the same scoreline against Leicester in October 2019. United’s 9-0 win over Ipswich Town in 1995 was the only other time it has happened.
And, much like in the home defeat by Leicester, Southampton suffered an early setback at Old Trafford with a sending off, this time youngster Alexandre Jankewitz receiving a straight red card after only two minutes.
Hasenhuttl and his side took on a recovery process after that humiliation at the hands of the Foxes, enduring reminders of the result in the build-up to a 2-1 win against the same opponent three months later, and facing up to questions on the one-year anniversary.
They emerged stronger, it seemed, winning five of their first eight league games this season and being praised for their high-energy approach. Only four weeks ago they beat defending champions Liverpool 1-0.
But now the rebuilding starts again.
“We lost again in a horrible way. The same story: one man down and 90 minutes can be long,” said Austrian Hassenhuttl, who had nine players out injured against United.
“The lads had no alternatives – no players on the bench, no alternatives to defend better. In the end, it’s a different situation to the first time.
“It hurts more to have this result again. But the team is a different one now and we’ve had a good season so far. Let’s see how the season ends.”
The punishing numbers for Saints
- This was Southampton’s biggest away defeat in any competition and they have now lost four consecutive league games.
- Some 35% of Southampton’s Premier League goals this season – 12 out of 35 – have been conceded against United.
- It was the first time United had won a competitive game by more than a five-goal margin against Southampton.
- The Saints became only the second team in Premier League history to receive two red cards against United at Old Trafford, after Wigan in November 2010.
- Jankewitz became the first player to be sent off on his first Premier League start since Serge Aurier for Tottenham in September 2017.
Where do Saints go from here?
Former Everton midfielder Leon Osman, speaking on BBC’s Match of the Day: “Southampton have to get results – like they did last time [they lost 9-0]. They stuck together and galvanised the team. They need positivity back in the club. They’re on a poor run.”
Former England forward Dion Dublin, speaking on BBC’s Match of the Day: “I like Ralph. He is a very good manager and has a good squad of players who will stick together. It is all about managing what has happened on Tuesday in the best way possible.”
BBC Radio Five Live commentator Alistair Bruce-Ball: “I don’t think the Southampton board last season, after the 9-0 loss to Leicester, were ever really minded to get rid of Hasenhuttl because they have always trusted in him and they believe in him for the long term.
“There’s no worry about this latest defeat at all because they have had such a good start to the campaign and will consider the circumstances behind this latest loss.”
And what about Hasenhuttl?
“Yes it hurts. It hurts me the most, but I cannot change it any more – it’s happened. The only way is we are together. I sit here and answer and at the moment I’ve no alternatives over what I do with the team, and that’s it.”
Analysis – ‘Hassenhuttl needs to ensure there is no hangover’
BBC football reporter Simon Stone at Old Trafford
Hassenhuttl was courteous in answering questions and adamant there is a big difference between this 9-0 defeat and the one his side suffered against Leicester.
Then, they went on to lose three more games and draw another before he changed tactics and began a journey that took them to the top of the table earlier this season.
There were some unique factors that conspired against Hassenhuttl’s team at Old Trafford – a massive injury list, an early red card and a debatable second one.
Faith in the Austrian to turn the situation around remains high.
But having spent the summer constructing “the Southampton playbook”, Hasenhuttl needs to ensure there is no hangover from this shuddering setback, otherwise major questions will need to be answered.
The problem with producing a blueprint is that you don’t have a lot of room for manoeuvre if it starts to go wrong.
He still has backing…
And if positivity saw Hasenhuttl through first time around, maybe he can take some solace from this Saints fan…