Nigel Clough paid tribute to his “special” Blades after watching them reach the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup.
Marc McNulty’s second-half goal proved the defining moment of a memorable evening at Bramall Lane as Southampton, fifth in the Premier League, were condemned to defeat by opponents nearly 50 places below them on the footballing pyramid.
And Clough, who also thanked the supporters for “playing their part” in “a deserved victory,” said: “What can I say? I’m just very proud of those players and they should be very proud of themselves because what they’ve just achieved is special.
“I was asked before what I thought our best quality was and I replied ‘those lads are a team.’ More than anything else, that’s what they are.”
“I don’t think that result was a fluke. I don’t think anyone could deny we deserved it and, if anything, we could have scored a couple more.”
Clough, who led United into the last four of the FA Cup earlier this year, added: “There’s something about playing higher opposition these lads seem to relish. Spirit, atmosphere and backing. Everything was there.
“Doing well (in the FA Cup last season) triggered a great run of form in the league and hopefully it will rub off again.”
Ronald Koeman, the Southampton boss, refused to shake hands with United’s coaching staff at the final whistle after accusing them of “not showing respect” to either himself or the match officials but Clough said: “I certainly don’t want to be talking about that at a time like this. Not after what our lads have done but I don’t think anything is going to upset us tonight.”