There was a point midway through the second half of United’s home game against Everton on Sunday where it looked as though the Reds were about to cruise to a relatively easy victory. This is United though, the word ‘easy’ has no place in the modern day lexicon of the club and the team quickly made sure the fans weren’t allowed the luxury of enjoying the latter stages of a game of football. Perish the thought. So what did we learn from the Reds’ 2-1 win over Marco Silva’s side other than the fact Everton fans were taking part in some form sponsored silence for much of the game?
1. The redemption of Victor Lindelof continues. Picking up from the Juventus game, the Swedish defender continues to remind the fans why he was brought to the club. While many people may still question whether Chris Smalling is reliable enough to make the starting eleven, his defensive partner is finally beginning to look like a United player.
2. Anthony Martial could be the saviour of United’s season. What a difference a month makes. It wasn’t long ago that the mercurial Frenchman was being tipped with a move away from the club, following rumours of a rift with Jose Mourinho. Now though, he’s poised to sign a new deal, has been praised gushingly by his boss and it tearing teams apart on a weekly basis. Sunday was one of Martial’s best ever games as Everton struggled to cope with his pace, skill and finishing. If United are to have a successful season then it will undoubtedly be a Martial-shaped one.
3. There’s still life in Ashley Young. Few players have faced the relentless doubts and criticism the former Watford and Aston Villa winger and bounced back to win the trophies, accolades and caps Young has.
He may not be every fans’ favourite but Sunday was another reminder of why he’s still a vital member of Mourinho’s squad.
4. It’s still a tale of two Pogbas. For 99% of the game Paul Pogba was immense, spraying passes, bagging his penalty – after a run up so long many of the assembled fans managed to sneak in a cheeky pint followed by a toilet break before he’d finally took it – and setting up Martial with a well placed ball. Yet for one moment, Pogba did exactly what he’s done more than once already this season – needlessly giving away the ball while showboating which led to an opposition goal. If Pogba can cut out the sloppiness he could elevate himself from a great player to a truly dominant one.
5. Fred could be the key to a balanced midfield. It wasn’t a perfect performance by the Brazilian but with his energy, willingness to show for the ball, plus a determination to try and make something positive happen whenever in possession, Fred deserved his applause when he left the field. Mourinho has a habit of treating some signings with more kid gloves than others and his decision to use Fred sparingly in his first few months may prove to be the perfect way to introduce him to the rigours of English football.