After the misery of defeat in the derby, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United rejuvenated Old Trafford with a 4-0 trouncing of Norwich City.
If City had taken apart United in a ruthless manner, then the same could be said for Saturday afternoon’s win for the Reds.
Three players stood out in what was an all-round professional performance from United.
Two goals from Rashford made it 19 for the season from the Wythenshawe-born Red. He captained United on Wednesday against City and scored then, too.
His consistency has been the key this season and since a move out left in October, he’s flourished.
Rashford is perhaps the only constant in the incessant inconsistency and glumness that often surrounds United.
His first goal was an excellent finish from a Mata cross and the second was a good penalty. Rashford dragged United in front, and had a couple of other chances saved.
At one point in the first half, before he scored, Rashford produced a perfect flip-flap in the box to create a chance that wasn’t converted.
He’s not necessarily a ‘great goalscorer’ or even a ‘scorer of great goals’. But he’s a very effective forward at the moment that also produces moments of brilliance and of superb skill.
Eyebrows were raised by some but most will have sighed upon seeing Mata in the starting line-up against Norwich.
But the Spaniard delivered with two assists. The first, a wonderfully-weighted cross for Rashford, was perfect.
This game was the right one for Mata to start. He thrives in space and with time.
Norwich gave United both of those things in a poor performance from the Canaries, who remain bottom in the Premier League.
Like Mata, United fans have grown frustrated with Matic’s limitations, which have been many over the last 18 months. But, as in the second half against City, Matic was key for United.
He looked certain to leave this month but injuries to Pogba and McTominay have allowed him to become semi-important once again.
He covered United’s defence well and played the ball quicker than we’ve seen before from him.
There’s little chance that Matic will be at United beyond this summer, and he shouldn’t be, but he remains a useful option. And to say that is to admit that this writer, like many United fans, were at least somewhat wrong about the Serbian midfielder.
Solskjaer has to be careful, though. Matic’s terrible form prior to the last few weeks was a result of being overplayed under both him and Mourinho. He has to remain the backup option and can’t play more than one game a week.
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