Mauricio Pellegrino praised the attitude and personality of his team as they recovered from their hammering at Tottenham to hold Manchester United to a goalless draw at Old Trafford.

The two performances could hardly have been in starker contrast, as Saints played with determination and unity and fully deserved to take at least a point from the game against Jose Mourinho’s side.

In the short time between the matches Saints sold Virgil van Dijk for a world record £75m, and Pellegrino also made the decision to drop Fraser Forster and replace him with Alex McCarthy, and it all paid off.

Pellegrino said: “For sure we are really pleased, not just for the point, we are happy because our performance was really good from the beginning until the end, especially in the way we approached the game.

“We were really focussed with attitude, with personality.

“United never was comfortable on the pitch and was always uncomfortable and that is something we talk about our job with the ball and without the ball and also we have had our moments to try to score a goal.

“Still the Premier League continue really quick and Tuesday we have another massive game (against Crystal Palace) and we have to use this game as a base to try to grow and try to improve in different areas but I am really happy with my players.”

Mourinho was left frustrated that referee Craig Pawson didn’t give his side a penalty when Maya Yoshida handled the ball in the area.

However, Saints also had cause for complaint after replays appeared to show Ashley Young digging an elbow into Dusan Tadic.

“I haven’t seen the replay but it is difficult for the referee to see in one second what happened in all different places and I have to respect the decision,” said Pellegrino of the Tadic incident.

“They were also talking about the Maya handball maybe but in one second everything can change and when the game is really tight everything can change and we have to respect the position.”

The performance was a big show of character after van Dijk’s departure to Liverpool, and Pellegrino reflected: “Every single week it’s an opportunity to try to improve.

“Without Virgil we have to try to think about the future and bring to the squad a couple of targets to improve and try to be stronger.

“In six months or one year’s time we can maybe talk about if to sell Virgil was positive or not, but for this we have to wait.”

Saints are going to be active in the January transfer market, but Pellegrino admitted he wasn’t sure how quickly moves would happen.

“We never know because I can’t control the market,” he confessed. “It depends on the possibility we will have.

“It’s not easy because in December important players are not easy to bring. We have opportunities and we have to be ready.”