United are back to winning ways, hitting Norwich for four in an easy win at Old Trafford.
Marcus Rashford scored twice, with one each for Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.
Here is a look at five things learned in the win…
Mata key for clinical United in 4-0 win vs Norwich
Juan Mata’s selection caused concern for many United fans who have seen him contribute little in previous appearances. But he delivered two assists on Saturday afternoon.
His cross for Rashford’s opener was perfectly directed and weighted. It was a reminder of his quality and why Solskjaer does often opt for the Spaniard.
That’s not to say he should now start every game but it showed the kind of game that Mata thrives in.
Norwich gave United space and time on the ball and the pace of the match was relatively slow. Any faster and, as we’ve seen, Mata may have struggled. As it was, he played a crucial part in a crucial win.
Martial and Rashford add to good records
With his headed goal at Old Trafford, Anthony Martial now has as many goal involvements (14) this year in 22 games as he did last year in 38 appearances. It’s partly a result of the sales of Lukaku and Sanchez but also a good season for Martial.
He needs to do more as United’s first-choice centre-forward. But despite frustrating United fans, he’s surprisingly consistent in his goalscoring rate, if not in his performances. It was his 11th goal on Saturday and he’s scoring one every two games.
Rashford, meanwhile, is coming into his own. He’s now got 19 goals for the season in all competitions. Were it not for a dubious decision from the Dubious Goals Panel themselves, it would be 20.
That’s a brilliant record. Rashford is marking himself as one of the league’s best forwards, and his best goalscoring rate is from the left wing. His finish from a cross was excellent and he showed good nerve to score a penalty.
The pair have been oft-criticised but this was a game in which they showed their quality, much like the away trip to Carrow Road in October.
Brandon Williams shows he is United’s best left-back
Ashley Young is reportedly off to Inter Milan. He wasn’t in the match day squad against either City or Norwich. Luke Shaw was injured in the warm-up but Williams was starting anyway.
He showed why he’s a far better option at the moment than Shaw. Williams plays the game at sprint speed, not the casual galloping of Shaw or even Young, and many of United’s other players.
He is, as regular watchers of academy games have known for some time, direct, confident and aggressive. Rashford converted the penalty but Williams won it after a good run.
He sprints into the penalty area before slowing down and earning the foul from defender or goalkeeper.
It’s an old tactic that he’s used plenty of times. The 19-year-old did miss a guilt-edged opportunity in the second half after a storming run into the box. It should have been his second goal for the club.
Natural finisher Greenwood shows it again
18-year-old Mason Greenwood now has three goals in his last five league games. He’s only started one of those games.
He is, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reiterated so many times, a genuinely natural finisher.
Not only that but he is unashamedly focused on scoring. Just minutes after coming on against Norwich, he received the ball at the edge of the area, found the space quickly and accurately struck towards the bottom right corner for United.
That goal wrapped the game up at 4-0 and gave Greenwood his ninth goal of the season. He’s a natural and a gem.
Anti-Glazer chants resurface at Old Trafford
For the first time in some years, fans at Old Trafford delivered their unerring verdict on the owners of the club. Among other, more violent songs, fans in the Stretford End sang ‘We Want Glazer Out’.
It’s a message, and a song, that goes back more than a decade. But for some years now, it’s a message hardly heard at the ground. This time, with United winning 3-0 at the time, fans spontaneously protested against the club’s ownership and leadership as they berated the Glazers and Ed Woodward.
It was a clear message, but not one that had been planned or co-ordinated pre-match. The pressure will only grow for the leadership at the club in the January transfer window.
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