The Brighton hoo-doo was well and truly put in the past as a commanding performance, probably the most commanding of the recent years, saw the Red Devils sink the Seagulls as Greenwood hit the first, with Bruno Fernandes following up with two efforts afterwards. The third especially harkened back to the famous counter attack goals of the late 2000s and really put a shine on the result for Ole and the boys.
Filling the wings
Although the right side has defensive surety there, the full back area still was an area of concern. But in Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan Bissaka were the one of the grandest take aways in a performance in which only positives were able to be taken from it. Shaw from the off looked more adventurous and decisive in his attacking work than he has in a long time. His involvement in the second goal was a testament to that as he broke into the box, a contentious offside decision being permitted, which he put in a decent area was recycled around the Brighton box and Pogba passed it to Bruno, whose deflected strike went to the near post of Matt Ryan. It was not the only instance, as earlier, the English LB fizzed a cross into Martial that the latter failed to trap adequately enough in order to get a shot off. Generally, he was marauding down the left hand side, switching between underlaps and overlaps depending on the positioning of Rashford, something that was distinctly lacking in the previous Premier League match. In build up, his passing was still under hit, often slowing down the tempo and given his actual ability to ping the ball into teammates’ feet is one of his best offensive traits, it is a wonder why he fails to do it with any regularity. On the other side, Wan Bissaka was seemingly working incredibly hard on his attacking output during lockdown as he followed up an assist vs Sheffield United with another today, for Greenwood’s first goal. Alike his left side counterpart, he was a permanent threat to Dan Burn and Yves Bissouma, constantly standing them up and managing to get in a few decent crosses. Much of the improved threat going forward has been focused around those further ahead but in having games like this from the right and left back, it opens up the pitch much more for all of those in the middle and half spaces
Tree Keeps Sprouting
The sale of Lukaku and his non-replacement was the biggest drawback of the summer window for fans and pundits alike and the idea that a young 18 year old would be ample to step into the shoes of a seasoned Premier League striker was considered an unnecessary risk. Yet as the season goes and goes, Mason Greenwood’s emergence in the first team squad, though expected by many who had actually watched him, has partly justified that decision and more. The added muscle weight he has purportedly put on during lockdown looks to have helped him even more as he is able to withstand the pressures of the senior game more. The burst he was continually showing for the youth is slowly getting translated in the seniors and the goal showed it in abundance. Many a time, he has tried the shift but his body has not been coordinated enough to do it quickly. Today, the ability to strike with both feet meant that now he shifted it and shot quickly, the defender didn’t even have the time to adjust. The pace in transition he showed was something that was evident in the Watford game at home was there again today as a lovely floated cross connected with Bruno Fernandes’s right foot. It is this decision making and technical ability that had many United fans crying for him to get more starting game time but he had to acclimatise and although not anywhere close to being finished, it is enough now to be a firm starter on the right wing.
Man of the Match Merchant
It would be remiss of me to not acknowledge the player who scored two goals on the day as the Portuguese midfielder continued his fine start in a Man Utd shirt. The influence of Bruno Fernandes cannot be understated. Those behind him trust he is good so don’t need to venture into those areas to create for the forwards and those ahead of him know he is able to find them so don’t drop deep to look for it. The first strike was lucky as it deflected into the other corner of the net, the second was struck with aplomb to put the icing of a very tasty cake for United fans
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.