Morgan Schneiderlin says Manchester United are right to focus on defence as he prepares to face former club Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday.
Louis van Gaal’s side have come in for criticism so far this season for a notably patient approach to attacking, although they have only conceded three times so far in the top flight.
Schneiderlin – who did not start last weekend’s win over Liverpool and missed the Champions League defeat to PSV entirely – is hoping to regain his place this weekend against the club he left for Old Trafford in July.
And the France international maintains United’s approach to games in a shrewd one, telling So Foot: “The most important thing for us is to not concede any goals, meaning that we only need to score one to get the three points.”
Schneiderlin has also praised both Van Gaal and Saints boss Ronald Koeman for their possession-focused tactics, though he says his current manager is the sterner disciplinarian.
“Both want their team to play with the ball on the ground. After all, they are two managers who have known Barcelona, either as a player or as a coach.
“Therefore, they want us to build from the back.
“After that, in their man management, Koeman is more relaxed, whereas Van Gaal is more strict, and he is very big on tactics.”
Koeman himself wants to see more ruthlessness in attack from his side after their 0-0 draw with West Brom.
“We had good organisation and defending, but with all the ball we had you’d expect a little more quality up front, so we have to improve,” said the former Netherlands defender, who masterminded a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in January.
“The key is to continue how we played, but improve in the final cross, pass or position in the box. We sometimes have too much difficulty to create and score.”
United are hopeful of having captain Wayne Rooney fit again after he missed both the Liverpool and PSV clashes, though Phil Jones is still a doubt and Luke Shaw will not make his St Mary’s return after breaking his leg in midweek.
For Southampton, Jordy Clasie (ankle) and Ryan Bertrand (knee) are doubts, with Gaston Ramirez (hamstring), Florin Gardos and Fraser Forster (both knee) sidelined for the long term.
United have not kept a clean sheet against Southampton in any of their last seven meetings and have only beaten them once in their last four encounters, when Robin van Persie scored both goals in a 2-1 win on the south coast last December.
Southampton can close to within a point of the Red Devils in the Premier League table with a victory.