Six things we learned as Manchester United beat Brentford 3-0
Manchester United were impressive against Brentford to earn a victory in the final home game of the season at Old Trafford.
Here is a look at six things we learned from United’s victory…
Elanga’s electric pace
Anthony Elanga likes playing against Brentford. After scoring against them in pre-season, then away in the Premier League, he provided an assist to open the scoring at Old Trafford tonight.
Elanga’s pace was electric as he propelled himself forward to get on the end of a Diogo Dalot pass which looked to be heading out for a goal kick. His cross was right into Bruno Fernandes’ path, perfectly weighted.
The Swede looked confident too, turning on the skills and earning an applause from the crowd for his trickery. He worked hard throughout. His pace can be a real asset under new boss Erik ten Hag.
He has been one of the very few bright spots for United this season, and it is good to see Elanga is still pushing, and still contributing.
Fernandes back on the scoresheet
Bruno Fernandes is finally on double figures for the season, getting back on the scoresheet for Manchester United at long last.
This was Fernandes’ first goal for United since the mid-February win over Leeds United. It’s been way too long.
He has not been playing well of late, missing a penalty against Arsenal too, but Ralf Rangnick has persisted with him, and this will boost his confidence.
This goal will help lift Fernandes, and United, for the final two away games against Brighton and then Crystal Palace.
The strike was also Fernandes’ long-awaited 50th goal for the club, achieved in just two and a half seasons.
Juan Mata still class
Juan Mata was recalled into the side, partly for sentimental reasons, his final home game at Old Trafford. But Ralf Rangnick said he also ‘deserved’ to be in the side, after impressing late against Chelsea, and in training.
Marcus Rashford was the one to drop out, rather than Anthony Elanga, and this was unsurprising, showing how he has gone backwards this season.
Mata’s selection was as much to do with Rashford dropping out. Rangnick simply couldn’t select him after his last performance.
Rashford was a liability against Chelsea, completing just 12 passes all game. His season has been a disaster, and he will go into next season with everything to prove, and his place at the club under scrutiny.
Mata on the other hand, is still a class act. He linked up well with Cristiano Ronaldo, playing one-twos, and helped United look competent in the final third, completely justifying his selection.
The Spaniard has been underused this season to the stage it has felt pointless him being at United. This was his first Premier League start of the campaign. Perhaps if he had been used more regularly, United would have had a better season.
Ronaldo leads by example
Cristiano Ronaldo would be forgiven for not being too happy, considering United’s wretched season was not what he signed up for.
But he is still enjoying his football, and was playing with a real smile on his face, linking up well with his teammates, setting example by tracking back, and pulling out the tricks and flicks to dazzle defenders.
He harshly had a goal disallowed in the first half too after a pass from Mata, judged to be narrowly offside.
After having a penalty award ignored in the first half, Ronaldo earned one in the second half, before sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot. He is now to to 24 goals this season and counting.
Varane’s first Manchester United goal
Raphael Varane scored his first Manchester United goal too, to join the party. He became the 17th different player to score for the club this season.
He converted a shot after an Alex Telles’ corner, his fourth assist of the season. United now have four goals from corners in total this season, having waited until February to score a single one.
The goal will help Varane feel a little more at home at Old Trafford, and hopefully the best is still to come from him.
A night for goodbyes
Rather than a night to ‘play the kids’ as many United fans hoped, Ralf Rangnick prioritised ‘saying goodbye’ to several players, on their final appearances at Old Trafford.
Mata and Nemanja Matic started, while Edinson Cavani and Phil Jones came on as substitutes. The first three will be released in the summer, while United will look to try and shift Jones out. This was a nudge towards the exit door.
Rather than a night of ill-feeling amid a difficult season, these players bowed out on a high, a positive night at Old Trafford, leaving them wondering ‘what might have been’.
Fred came off the bench too, which meant no Old Trafford farewell for Jesse Lingard, an unused substitute. He may be back, in an opposition shirt.
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