Marcus Rashford produced a moment of individual brilliance to secure Manchester United’s place in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals following a third successive away victory that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will believe is a further sign things are finally going his side’s way after a period in which his own future had been questioned.
Ultimately, the HarryMaguire sideshow was decided by Marcus Rashford scoring an early penalty for his new employers Manchester United but, beneath the sheer relief of a sorely-needed victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, a few painful home truths were all too apparent.
It must be halfway through Full Metal Jacket when Lt Lockhart, editor of the US military’s Stars and Stripes newspaper, briefs his men in the wake of the surprise attack by the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong that would go down in history as the Tet Offensive.
Alexis Sanchez returns to the Emirates with Manchester United today recovered from injury and in happier mood since the departure of Jose Mourinho, but still with an awful lot to do if he wants to persuade critics his career is not in terminal decline.
Here’s a sign of how well Ole has got his feet under the table, and how quickly we’re getting used to the pleasure of having him — we’re already becoming blasé. The Reds I know were confidently expecting an entertaining game on Saturday, and also expecting to win.
And then there were four. Four points between Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of a Premier League title race that was gifted new life at the start of a new year, with a victory last night that may one day look like the most significant of Pep Guardiola’s English career.
The boy in second class was collected by his dad on Tuesday, as usual, and they began the walk home. Two or three steps along, the news was broken and the boy wheeled back towards his friends with a tremendous urgency, screaming the bulletin to nobody and everybody.
The criticism of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United mounts by the week — lots of it from the manager himself — but as Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard came up with crucial equalisers last night, a t least his players at least showed there can be no questioning their durability.
Great football between great teams can be enthralling. Football between one great team and one poor team can be enjoyable too, although usually provokes interest rather than intrigue. Football between two poor teams is often hugely entertaining, although not always aesthetically. But for the perfect football recipe, you need good players doing things badly, writes.
This season is exploding many myths about Manchester United and Jose Mourinho, but as his side ground out another narrow and unsatisfactory Old Trafford victory, the status of the famous old stadium as the home of gold-plated guaranteed entertainment has, surely, been consigned to the history books.
Those of us who had been wondering all season just how good United really are may feel this past week has summed it up. Good enough to squeeze past mundane Premier League sides like Everton at home; bad enough to be totally schooled by any classy European side that may come along.
Football has a way of making co-incidences seem eerily like fate, whether that is strikers scoring vital goals against their former club, big-name transfers facing their ex-teammates on their debut or bitter rivals drawn together in the cup.
Paul Scholes may have been premature last night when he suggested that Jose Mourinho’s services should have been dispensed with at the weekend but, after the boos that greeted this insipid and wholly uninspiring goalless Champions League draw with mid-table Spanish opposition, it is hard to see any other fate befalling the Manchester United manager, sooner rather than later.