Eight consecutive away wins for the first time in United’s history. A win with ten players missing through injury. Three goals away from home. Ashley Young getting in on the action. Romelu Lukaku grabbing a brace. Just what more does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have to do to be handed the job full time? Luke Shaw’s going on mazy runs for God’s sake! Scott McTominay is bossing the midfield. Stop the Ole bus, I’m done.
Almost every week, Ole is faced with a fresh challenge one that some doubters suspect to be beyond his capabilities. PSG aside, he keeps not just rising to the occasion but surpassing it.
With the likes of Fred, McTominay, Alexis Sanchez and Diogo Dalot being brought into the fold some fans feared the worst against a tough Palace team. This is Ole Gunnar’s Solskjaer’s United however, there’s no mountain too big to climb, even with a severely wounded squad.
In addition to the injuries Solskjaer had to contend with there was also the issue of coping with one of the league’s most dangerous wingers. United never saw the best of Wilfried Zaha, for that matter neither did Ole when they were both at Cardiff City.
That’s not to say that Zaha isn’t a highly talented winger and one that especially at Selhurst Park can leave fullback’s utterly devastated. United not only coped with Zaha, but ironically it was the man tasked with trying to stop him, Ashley Young, who ended up getting United’s third.
The away end was rampant, similarly so was United’s attack as despite missing several key players the Reds refused to be cowed. Let’s not forget this was a Palace side that were unlucky to leave Old Trafford with only a point earlier in the season. Seems like an eternity ago doesn’t it? So what did we learn from last night’s win?
Here’s five things United’s latest victory showed us.
1. Ashley Young is an important part of the team.
Young is fast becoming the new Marouane Fellaini in that he divides opinion quicker than a Paul Pogba pass divides a midfield. For some he’s an experienced vital cog in the Ole machine. For others he’s a rusty spanner in the works.
Last night showed both the good and bad of Young as he was at fault for Palace’s goal – failing to clear when he had the chance.
Yet Young later made amends by ending the contest with United’s third. Young even held his hands up and admitted it was his mistake that cost United a goal. Fair play to him.
He may not be everyone’s favourite and last night he obviously wasn’t perfect, but he’s an experienced part of a relatively young – pardon the pun- team. He’s needed and Ole values him for a reason.
2. Romelu Lukaku isn’t giving up.
With stories regarding a summer move to Italy, calls for Mason Greenwood to be given some playing time and questions about his effort and weight, Lukaku’s United days seem numbered.
Unfortunately someone forgot to tell the Belgian striker who bagged a brace last night and was a constant thorn in Palace’s side. Yes his touch still leaves you cowering behind your seat, but it’s obvious he’s not given up on trying to be an effective part of United’s team. Perhaps us fans shouldn’t give up on him either.
3. Fred exists.
If it wasn’t for his name rhyming with ‘bred’ would many Reds even know of the existence of Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos? Fred has spent less time on the pitch than the mascot who’s his namesake.
Fred’s performance was more or less what you’d expect from a player who’s barely kicked a ball since Ole took the wheel. He was wasteful and frustrating at times, but against Palace Fred showed us just enough to remind the manager that if he’s looking to take a gamble in France with Pogba out, then he he may be a decent option.
4. The jury’s still out on Alexis Sanchez.
It’s odd as you can see Sanchez is a gifted player. We know what he can do and how effective he can be. We can also see just how dreadful he is at times. Wednesday night was a case in point. We saw against Palace glimpses of the talented little genius we saw at Arsenal, but more of the mediocre angry little man we’ve witnessed since his transfer.
Time may not be on Sanchez’s side, especially with Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial still to come back into team. If and it’s a big ‘if’ he is to salvage his United career, it needs to happen sooner as there may not be a later.
5. Ole is all for the youth.
The sight of James Garner coming onto the pitch in the final minutes against Palace was arguably the highlight of the evening for many Reds. The academy product was the latest debutante at United and proof that the manager truly values giving youngsters playing time.
It’s ace being a United fan at the minute. Jubilant crowds, enjoyable football and youth getting a game. Let’s enjoy the ride till the Scousers or City ruin it all by winning the title.
*all odds are subject to change