Chris Smalling says he understands the Manchester United fans frustrations after his team were booed off following their 1-0 defeat to Southampton at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Charlie Austin’s 87th minute header from James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick on his Saints debut was the difference between the sides as United managed just one shot on target in the game.
Smalling says he shares the fans’ disapproval at the poor performance but also believes credit should go to Ronald Koeman’s side for being well-organised and difficult to break down.
“The fans want to see goals and see us attack,” said the defender.
“We couldn’t break Southampton down today, they played a very solid five and we found it very difficult, but we need to learn from this.
“Teams are coming here well organised and Southampton were well organised today, as we were.
“We both cancelled each other out and it looked like a set-play could be the deciding factor. We were on the end of it today but there were few chances.
“Set-pieces were their main threat and they had a couple of half-chances but [it’s disappointing] to concede that way when we should have walked off with a goalless draw, because neither side deserved to win.”
The defeat has intensified the pressure on manager Louis van Gaal as the Red Devils drop five points behind Tottenham in the race for a top-four finish.
Once again United were lacklustre in the final third, creating just eight chances and failing to trouble Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
Another goalless first half means it has now been eight hours and 26 minutes since United last scored a goal in the opening 45 minutes at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils travel to face Derby County in the fourth-round of the FA Cup on Friday night and Smalling says it is important the players regroup and now focus on beating the Championship side.
“We started this year very well but this is a setback,” he said.
“We can’t dwell on this too much.
“The players need to pick ourselves up as we’re the only ones who can turn this thing around.”
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