Don’t be fooled by our fluke performance against West Ham! Is what no United fan should be thinking right now, and here’s why.
4 goals, a clean sheet, and a more than convincing win. Are we back to greatness or was it merely a fluke against a poor opposition? It is maybe not so simple. The reality of it is, on occasions last season we would demonstrate a similar dominance, and would either scrape a 1-0 win or end up conceding late and dropping 2 points. If I recall in the league last season we managed to put 3 or more past a team without conceding on only two occasions, and drew 15 times. So what’s changed?
Well firstly we have a rapidly fast developing centre back in Bailly, who’s presence at the back is influencing the stability of our defence more and more as each game goes on. Secondly, we took our chances when they came. Lukaku, who has undoubtedly silenced a number of critics with his clinical performance today, does so much more than just score. He instills fear into defences. Possessing his pace and power is enough to scare any back four, but knowing he can lay off to a number of attacking midfielders equally capable of finding the net (to which we have many), is terrifying.
A key factor, as I keep banging on about, is balance. Could it be that our new signing Matic is the final piece to the puzzle – I’m convinced. Each and every time we lost the ball in the final third, he was there to pick up the pieces and re-distribute effectively. I hadn’t noticed in the past just how comfortable he is on the ball under pressure, and his composed performance rightly earns him the man of the match. His contribution and ‘replacement’ of Carrick has been talked down due his lack of passing ability – well when your job is to filter the ball back to a creative player, it surely nullifies this apparent weakness. I’ll go one step further in Matic’s impact. It plays a huge part in another game changing aspect – confidence. His positioning alone allows our creative players to express in the final third. They are offered the chance to play with freedom in knowing that they’re covered. Notably this cover allows the likes of Pogba to move into the channels and influence the game like we know he can.
A criticism I have was to deploy Fellaini in a deep role during the closing stages of the game. In this instance I want to see Carrick coming on and forming a wall in front of the defence with Matic rather than the Belgium international. Fellaini ought to be brought on as a nuisance in the final third when we’re trailing, rather than being relied upon to break up the play and create.
An additional positive – Martial. As a fan I want to see this kid succeed as I strongly believe in his ability to change games if given the chance. Despite only being offered 10 minutes to fight for his place, he remarkably managed to both score and assist – well done son, I hope you’re rewarded next game with a start.
I’ll end on a low, so not to give the impression of over confidence seeing as we’re only one game in – Lingard came on.
We played creatively, we scored goals and we defended well. I ask that we keep up the momentum and take our growing confidence into our next game away to Swansea.
Let’s stay top of the league!