Michu may have fired a blank here, but Swansea manager Michael Laudrup reckons his star man was worthy of a PFA Player of the Year nomination. The Spaniard was a surprise omission from the six-man shortlist of Robin van Persie, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Michael Carrick revealed on Friday.
On this evidence, Michu’s Premier League peers could have a case for getting it spot on, but that would be harsh after his 21-goals in a stunning first season in the top-flight since his £2.2million move from Rayo Vallecano.
Michu had a below-par afternoon as second-half efforts with head and foot proved wayward, but, despite an off-colour showing, the midfielder-cum-striker has the full backing of the Great Dane.
Laudrup said: “Every manager wants their player to be nominated, but I think Michu has done enough to be there. To score more than 20 goals for a mid-table team in his first season here is fantastic.”
This was a contest littered with few chances in what had a typically end-of-season feeling to it.
Southampton were on top in the first period with Rickie Lambert’s fine free-kick denied by Michel Vorm, and Adam Lallana had a goal disallowed for a foul on the Swansea goalkeeper.
Laudrup’s Swansea, boosted by the half-time introduction of live-wire winger Wayne Routledge, improved in the second period.
But with Michu off-target, Nathan Dyer’s shot cleared off the line by Maya Yoshida and Artur Boruc saving a Jonathan de Guzman effort, Southampton were able to extend their unbeaten run to six league games with this point nudging Mauricio Pochettino’s men closer to safety.
Pochettino said: “It wasn’t a great game, but the point and the clean sheet pleased me. I don’t think we lacked impetus, we just didn’t have the normal fluency.
“Maybe we should have won because we created the best chances. Swansea’s goalkeeper made two outstanding saves.
“I don’t know if 39 points is enough to stay up. Our goal is always to win the next game.”
With nine minutes left, Jay Rodriguez collided with referee Mark Halsey – taking his first Premier League game since the controversial Wigan and Newcastle match last month – near the halfway line to spark laughter. It was a rare moment of joy on a frustrating afternoon, although Southampton could have stolen it when Vorm saved substitute Emmanuel Mayuka’s shot with his legs.
Laudrup, whose side have found life difficult since winning the Capital One Cup in February said: “We played well in the first 25 minutes. We did everything well except scoring. If I look at all the games since the final I can’t complain about the attitude. There hasn’t been one game where I can say: ‘We were rubbish or poor.’
“On one hand we should have won. But after conceding two goals in each of the last four matches it was nice to get a clean sheet.
“We stay three points above Southampton, Fulham lost and West Ham are the only ones who won today. But I still believe we will finish in the top half, although, it won’t be easy to go to Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford.”
Swansea (4-3-3): Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; Britton, De Guzman, Michu; Dyer, Moore (Routledge, 46), Hernandez (Ki, 62).
Southampton (4-5-1): Boruc; Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fox; Lallana (Puncheon, 77), Schneiderlin, Cork, Davis, Rodriguez (Mayuka, 89); Lambert (Ramirez, 63.
Referee: Mark Halsey.
Man of the match: Cork (Swansea)
Match rating: 5/10