Five things learned as Manchester United come back to beat West Ham
It required another second-half surge for Manchester United to continue an immense run of away victories. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side never make it easy, but they do pick up the points on the road. Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford came off the bench at half-time, with United trailing, to help the Reds mount a comeback in style.
Here’s what we learnt from the 3-1 victory:
Rashford offers world-class influence off the bench
He suffered an injury to his shoulder against PSG and Solskjaer intended to rest him. The situation changed and Rashford had to come on. His impact was immediate and so impressive. He played with speed, directness and real quality. A missed one-on-one with Fabianski, set up by Fernandes, was made up for by the conversion of one assisted by Mata.
In contrast to Cavani and Martial, Rashford’s influence looks even greater. He was at the heart of United’s attacks, pushing forward with good ball control and such pace that West Ham could rarely reset their defensive shape. Rashford running at players is a sight to excite, and one we’ve not seen enough this season. This was the Englishman at his very best.
Mason Greenwood – dynamite
A moment of utter class from Greenwood put United 2-1 in front. It was the kind of play you’d expect to see from a world-class veteran. His touch was what made it, controlling the ball and setting himself up to send the defender the wrong way. The finish was, of course, brilliant. But that is what we expect from Greenwood.
Inconsistent or undercoached?
Questions must be asked about United’s woeful half. Without the assistance of fortune, they would have trailed by three or four come the break. It was an appalling display. A cynic would say United rely on individual quality to rescue them from such terrible first-half performances. There is a debate to be had there. There is only so far United can go playing like this at the start of games.
Why do they do it? Character? Perhaps. Tiredness? That’s also possible. Poor coaching? Another option. United have won, and done so in style in the end, but it can’t be this hard every away game.
Pogba finally comes up big for Manchester United
The Frenchman plays with a languid style that makes it easy to become frustrated. His frequent loss of possession has always been and is a concern. But his driving runs across the halfway line and his pinged passes to set up the counter-attacks sometimes make the other parts of his game worth it. This was one of those days. And that goal. It was what we wanted from Pogba when he signed from Juventus and what we have seen far too infrequently. Power and precision at a crucial moment.
Small things learned on Telles and United
Alex Telles struggled defensively. Juan Mata did offer United a lot as a substitute. Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani were not good enough and let West Ham push up against them. Maguire was excellent.
United have scored three times or more in all their away league games this season. It’s nine away wins on the bounce and they’re two points off the top of the league for now. A reason to smile.
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