10 Brandon Williams vs Sheffield United
There won’t be better debut goals scored by a left-back than Brandon Williams’ against Sheffield United. In just his second start for the club, and United 2-0 down, Williams started the comeback of what should have been a win for us.
James delivered the cross and the defender thought he had dealt with the danger, only for the ball to fall at the feet of Williams who lashed it away in to the bottom corner. A top quality finish.
9 Marcus Rashford vs Brighton
In a conversation with Robin van Persie ahead of our recent win over Burnley, Rashford claimed that playing on the left side of the attack is his favourite position. If anything sums up how dangerous he can be from here it was his goal against Brighton at the beginning of the year. Making the defender looking like a fool with his quick feet, Rashford turned inside and from a tight angle was able to find the top corner.
8 Marcus Rashford vs Spurs
Having enjoyed a great run under Solskjaer initially, it was dismissed at it being of little value because all our wins were against mediocre sides. Spurs away was our first real test. They were third in the league, 10 points ahead of us, and this was supposed to be the game that Ole came unstuck.
Pogba played an incredible ball forward to Rashford but there was still work to be done. He took a couple of touches and then slotted the ball away in the far corner.
“It’s a great ball, we’ve been training on this, we knew this was the weakness of Tottenham,” Pogba said afterwards. “We knew that when they are attacking they get high up and we can attack them on the other side of the pitch. That’s what we’ve been working on this week, we knew we could hurt them like this. They have a pattern and we knew we could create chances.”
7 Jesse Lingard vs Arsenal
United have been known to score a great counter-attacking goal or two at the Emirates, and Lingard’s was another to add to the collection.
Lacazette had burst in to our box but a misplaced pass from him lead to a United break, with Shaw bringing the ball out of our half and playing in Lukaku. The Belgian, who had been moved out to the right to great effect, then set up Lingard who was given the time to pass the ball in to the back of the net.
The Arsenal fury that followed as Lingard moonwalked and then set ‘The Dancefloor‘ as the location when he posted a picture of the celebration on social media was great to see. He loves a goal at the Emirates.
6 Anthony Martial vs City
While United have done better this season against teams that haven’t sat, it still felt like it was too much to ask for that we would beat City away. Yet in that first 45 minutes we absolutely battered them and should have gone in 4-0 up.
As it was, we had to settle for 2-0, with Rashford scoring the penalty he won, before Martial doubled our lead. Picking up the ball outside their box, he played a one-two with James, yet with City defenders in front of him, he still managed to get a shot away that beat Ederson at his near post, with the ball clipping it on the way in. The precision in finishing was incredible.
5 Daniel James vs Chelsea
Ahead of the opening game of the season against Chelsea, United fans were split in their confidence over how the campaign ahead would go. After an incredible start under Solskjaer, things took a severe turn for the worse in the final months of last season and there were questions over whether he could bring back the magic from the beginning.
Chelsea started the game better than us and could have gone ahead, but it was us who took the lead when Kurt Zouma brought down Marcus Rashford, and our academy graduate slotted it away. The two goals we scored in the space of a couple of minutes in the second half put the game to bed.
With 15 minutes left to play, Solskjaer brought on new signing Dan James. We didn’t know much about the 21-year-old before he signed, other than the fact a few months ago he was minutes away from signing for Leeds. He was fast too. The generally accepted view was that he was a player for the future but it was safe to bring him on for his debut in a game we had essentially already won.
A few minutes later, Paul Pogba went on a great run then played a perfectly weighted ball through to James. Initially, he kicked the floor and missed the ball. It looked like the chance had gone. But he steadied himself and had another go, putting us 4-0 up.
The delight in his celebration was a sight to behold and the way his new teammates rallied around him was great to see.
I don’t think you could write it, really. As soon as I signed here, I dreamed of something like that to happen and it did today. To score on my debut and to win 4-0 at Old Trafford in the first game, no, I don’t think you could (imagine that).
James’ father had died suddenly, aged 60, days before the transfer to United was finalised. You could see in his celebration that that one was for his dad and it was genuinely moving.
Dream start for the young Welshman.
4 Anthony Martial vs Fulham
The crowd at Craven Cottage had seen a United striker run half the length of the pitch and score before, when Ruud van Nistelrooy did it to them in 2003, so there was something comforting about seeing Solskjaer’s team being able to deliver throwbacks to the glory days with Martial last season.
Picking up the ball in his own half, Martial’s pace left the Fulham defence for dead, before a beautiful touch took it past the last defender and then he finished so coolly. This was our 10th win in 11 games under the new manager as we extended our unbeaten run.
On the back of signing his new deal a week earlier and having just scored in our win over Arsenal, this was the Martial we had been missing under Jose Mourinho. Brilliant finish.
3 Andreas Pereira vs Southampton
United had gone a goal behind thanks to a fantastic strike from Yan Valery, but anything they could do, we could do better. Pereira had a couple of players asking for the ball but he ignored them and went for goal himself. He struck from distance and it was unstoppable. This was his first goal in the Premier League, and while his performances have been disappointing too often, he showed with this goal that the ability is there.
2 Marcus Rashford vs Chelsea
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in screaming at the telly for Rashford not to shoot as he set himself ready to strike a freekick at Stamford Bridge from 35 yards out. The audacity to even attempt something like that, let alone pull it off!
Having already scored his third goal against Chelsea this season after James had been brought down in the penalty area, I thought Rashford just had a rush of blood and had the belief he was capable of pulling anything off. Turns out he was right! This freekick was as good as anything we’d seen from a Ronaldo or Beckham set piece in the past.
In terms of the best quality strike from a United player this year, it has to be this freekick for me. But we all know, the best goal isn’t always the best finish, and there can be no doubt as to what our best goal of 2019 was.
1 Marcus Rashford vs PSG
Marcus fucking Rashford. I make no secret of my love for this lad who has grown up supporting the club, working hard to nail down a first team place, and now scoring for us weekly. If there was one player I could pick to score a 94th minute penalty away in the Champions League to put us through to the quarter-finals, it would be him. Thankfully, he didn’t disappoint.
Having lost 2-0 at home against PSG three weeks earlier, the odds were against us progressing to the next round. In fact, no team had ever lost the first leg by two away goals in the Champions League and not been knocked out.
Angel Di Maria took the piss at Old Trafford that night, pretending to sip the beer from the bottle that was thrown at him, even more than he managed to when wearing our shirt and not being arsed despite the ridiculous salary we were paying him. And it was fucking annoying. We had been riding the Ole wave up until that point and had been brought back down to Earth with a bump.
But when Lukaku put up 1-0 up at the Parc des Princes in the second minute, a little bit of hope began to creep in. If we could just score the second goal, we were in with a chance. But 10 minutes later Juan Bernat made it 1-1 and it looked like we were dead and buried. Could we really score another two goals without letting another one in? Especially with the Eric Bailly horror show taking place?
But United scored another, again through Lukaku, and now that it was game on, Ole made the brave and needed decision to take the Ivorian off with just 35 minutes played.
The home side went on to dominate possession and chances but with time ticking away VAR took interest in a blocked Dalot shot in the 90th minute. Was that handball?
Yes, it fucking was!
Once we’d got over the excitement of being awarded a final chance to win the game, we were confronted with the reality of Rashford stepping up to take the first United penalty of his senior career. No biggie, lad, we’re only in the 94th minute and if you score, it’ll be delirium and if you miss, deep depression. And it’s only World Cup winning Gianluigi Buffon in net. The Italian may have saved 33 penalties in his career, against the likes of Baggio, Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) and Figo, but you’ve got this!
And what does he go and do?
Smash it in to the top fucking corner! What a hero! What a moment! United were back (momentarily)! It felt fucking incredible. Up there with the very best moments of supporting this club.
Paul Pogba and Patrice Evra were in the stands screaming “Ici, c’est Manchester!” while Neymar’s dad lost the plot and had to be dragged away from their box by security after Eric Cantona made “inciting gestures”, in the form of holding his finger to his lips, in Neymar Snr’s direction.
Pictures of Eric, Fergie and Ole celebrating in the dressing room were plastered on social media in the aftermath.
And just in case you hadn’t seen enough footage, enjoy! Happy New Year, Reds! Let’s hope for more memories like this in 2020.