Manchester United got back to scoring ways, let alone winning ways, in the premier league yesterday with a 2-0 home victory over West Brom at Old Trafford. Second half goals from Jesse Lingard and a late Juan Mata penalty kept United in touch with the league summit.
On The Match
Predictably, Tony Pulis set his side up to sit back and get the nought that United usually grant opponents these days. The point would have done for West Brom so it was up to United to earn more for themselves.
As the Red Devils went about patiently looking for an opening, there was not much dissent from inside the stadium. Only till the end of the first half did the first chant of ''Attack. Attack. Attack'' ring out. United were in fact attacking but with what you could describe as ''solid football'' and not the ''liquid football'' that the fans perhaps meant.
Still, and very much like Wednesday, the goal, when it arrived, was worth the wait. In the 52nd minute, Academy graduate Jesse Lingard took advantage of the space left by Yacob and curled a brilliant finish into the bottom right corner. It was a genuinely lovely finish. Having grown up in Warrington, supporting United all his life and come through the ranks, you could see what the goal meant to player and fans. That it came at the Stretford End will add personal joy to Jesse.
Perhaps what will please Jesse is that it was not a goal in a 4-0 triumph but the much needed breakthrough that United craved for yesterday.
United's rearguard was largely untroubled but Sadio Berahino scores on another day having been granted the freedom of the six yard box in the 75th minute. It sobers up perspective on how good United are defensively despite the impressive figures racked up by the individuals in the back five.
To think that this week could have gone differently if Doumbia makes it 0-1 on Wednesday for CSKA Moscow or Berahino equalises late on for West Brom. Such are the margins that Louis van Gaal's approach attracts.
On the Sub-Plots
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson joined the list of Academy players to make their debut for the club under Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman can rightly be accused of many things but he has stayed true to the club's ethos of bringing through youth.
Having sold/released a large chunk of the players that kept United's impressive record of an Academy player on the bench in every game since 1937, this was the season in which that record was bound to come to an end. As it turned out, two of them are permanent members of the first team whilst Borthwick-Jackson and Axel Tuanzebe have been involved in the side this week alone. Great stuff!
The Bottom Line
When the fixture computer did its thing back in June, October was the month we all looked at with a shiver down the spine. It's not been great but it's not been a disaster either. As Sir Alex always said, the target this side of the season is to stay within five points of the top come New Years Day.
United now have a run of very winnable games between now and when Chelsea come to Old Trafford on December 28th. You could say the proverbial storm is over and the house is still standing. Of course the premier league remains one in which games are always far from a foregone conclusion but neither can the upcoming games be said to be too difficult.
16 points from the next 18 available would see us in a great position for the second half of the season. Perhaps even top of the league by the start of the new year. Anything less than that and we'll have left ourselves with too much to do when the next round of games against sides in the top half of the table comes round.
Labels: JESSE LINGARD, JUAN MATA, LOUIS VAN GAAL, MANCHESTER UNITED, REVIEWS