United’s latest win under the Ole revolution may not have been the most impressive but in many ways it was the most important.
With Spurs grabbing a late winner against Newcastle, Chelsea battering a hapless Huddersfield and Arsenal succumbing to City, United needed a win. And thanks to the grit and resilience installed under Ole, we got one.
Paul Pogba’s ridiculously good pass to Marcus Rashford, who produced a ludicrously amazing touch before an absurdly clinical finish was enough to separate the two sides. On the whole, it was Ole’s side’s worst performance since he took over. The Reds struggled to string more than three passes together. Defensively United looked nervous and at times lackadaisical in attack.
United will play better than this and fail to win in the future. It was a gritty, ground-out result rather than a great performance, but it was a win nonetheless.
1. No Pogba no party
Even in a drab, somewhat scruffy game, Paul Labile is able to rise above the mediocrity. It wasn’t just the midfielder’s superb pass for Rashford’s goal which made him stand out. As either side struggled to truly dominate the game, Pogba was the game’s most effective player. Spreading the play and running with the ball, Pogba at least tried to make things happen. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as some of Pogba’s passing went astray. No matter what, Pogba could never be accused of hiding and if he did infect his team with anything at the King Power, it was the ability to get the ball forward.
Pogba picked out passes and and showed the confidence of a player at the top of his game. Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera being willing to do the dirty work, obviously helps. Pogba may be the star but his midfield team mates deserve credit too.
2. Marcus Rashford, the striker we need.
When Wythenshawe’s finest missed a header from three yards out, many of us feared the worst. Rashford’s miss against Burnley had proved seminal and set the tone for most of the game. Leicester was a different story though as Rashford put his miss behind to then put the ball behind Schmeichel minutes later. It’s always a good sign of a striker’s confidence when they can miss a chance and not be bothered by it. Unlike Lukaku whose confidence seems non-existent, Rashford simply cannot be stopped right now.
3. More questions than answers for Alexis Sanchez
I’d love to stop questioning whether we’ll ever see the real Alexis Sanchez. I’d also love Liverpool or City not to win the league and Only Connect to be on every night – don’t @ me it’s mint.
The sad thing is despite being handed a rare Premier League start, Sanchez failed to shine against Leicester. Sanchez’s movement wasn’t the issue nor was his willingness to demand the ball. The problem is he seems to be in-between positions. He’s not a winger, a striker or an attacking midfielder. He’s all yet none of them. He’s an enigma. Sanchez’s problem and also United’s, is time is running out for both and Ole’s revolution has raised the bar. When Ole’s at the wheel and there’s no room for enigmatic passengers. Which doesn’t bode well for the Chilean maestro.
4. United can do the rough with the smooth.
We know that Ole’s side are capable of tearing teams apart with fluid counterattacking excellence. We also know United can score goals from any number of positions. The real question is ‘could United do what they used to do under Sir Alex so often’? Grind out results when playing badly? The answer was a definite yes. Despite Leicester pressing the Reds late on and some sloppy passing, Ole’s “boys” stood tall and took all three points. Again. Five straight away wins harks back to the glory years. As does winning ugly.
The Foxes refused to give up and have beaten City and Chelsea this season. Throw in a recent draw at Anfield and it’s underlines the fact, Sunday’s win was a well-earned one.
5.Victor Lindelof and A.N.Other
It’s now fully accepted that United’s Swedish international has to start every game. The only question being who partners him? Eric Bailly is the people’s choice among most fans. Bailly’s ability is never in doubt, his judgement and fitness are another matter. If Bailly could manage a consistent run in the side he may prove to be the player we all hope he is. The problem is Bailly sometimes looks a liability and seems to lack the composure needed for a top class defender. In terms of heart, effort and physicality he’s ideal. There’s still some lingering doubts as to whether United’s number three can be relied upon week in week out.
Sunday’s game failed to truly answer the question as to who should partner Lindelof but it was a step in the right direction for Bailly. If Bailly can build on his performance at the King Power, then maybe he’s the man to partner Victor. Personally I think he can. It’s a big if though.