United misses out on Europa League
SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — Manchester United failed to qualify for next season’s Europa League after drawing with Southampton 1-1 Sunday on the final day of the Premier League.
The dull draw is likely to be Ryan Giggs’ last match in charge of United as interim coach.
With Southampton guaranteed an eighth-place finish and United heading into the game with only the slightest possibility of European qualifying, this game had long lost any meaningful intrigue.
The hosts dominated the opening 45 minutes and Rickie Lambert put Southampton into a deserved first-half lead.
Nemanja Vidic, making his last appearance for United, could only head a long ball into the path of Steven Davis under pressure from Lambert, who was then picked out to slot home his 13th league goal of the season in the 28th.
United’s players gathered around referee Mike Dean after the goal as Vidic had a bloody nose after the clash with Lambert in the build-up.
Juan Mata’s free kick nine minutes after the interval was enough to earn United a point.
A year after winning the title, United finished seventh, five points behind Tottenham — and 22 behind new champion Manchester City.
When United an Southampton play again next season, the chances are a number of the main protagonists will have moved on.
With the managerial futures of both Giggs and Southampton counterpart Mauricio Pochettino unclear, it is likely two new coaches will be brought in — and for Saints their main challenge will be replacing a seemingly Liverpool-bound Adam Lallana.
The 26-year-old is reportedly the target of a big bid from Anfield and Lallana once again showed how he can cut it against some of the best players in the league.
Giggs made seven changes from the midweek win over Hull as he recalled Vidic for his final game.
But it proved to be a difficult outing for the man who will be lining up for Inter Milan next year as he and his defensive partner Rio Ferdinand, another who could well be departing Old Trafford, struggled to contain Southampton’s rampant frontmen in the opening 45 minutes.
Giggs reacted to a mediocre first half by replacing Shinji Kagawa with Michael Carrick and, after his side had started the second half on top, it soon drew level.
Danny Welbeck was bundled to the ground by Victor Wanyama and Mata curled the resulting free kick well out of the reach of Boruc.