Manchester United finally recorded a league win at Old Trafford since the victory over Newcastle United after beating Fulham 4-1 thanks to goals from Ashley Young, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford. Contributing writer, Nathan Quao, observed the match and has put down his thoughts.
Positive start was key
Fulham’s good spell in the second half of the tie that led to their goal was a great reminder that the Red Devils’ good start to the match in the first half was worth its weight in league points.
Very often this season, the story has been that Man United labour at the start of matches and that is the story until the end but it was different against the Cottagers.
There was life in the team and there was forward-looking football and movement and eventually, the result was in the bag.
Players were willing to win the ball and get it going in the right direction. And there was the simplicity in the passing and decisions taken most of the time.
The perfect example was the Lukaku goal. It started as a corner but it went into a passing sequence involving Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard with the former setting up the Belgian forward.
And it all came down to starting well and showing the willingness to get the result.
Now, what is needed is the consistency in the next game and as fate would have it, it is against Liverpool at Anfield.
There is no better place for the players to show that they want to turn the season around for the better.
More work needed from Dalot and Rashford
The young pair of Diogo Dalot and Marcus Rashford were arguably the best players on the field for the Red Devils and they deserve plaudits.
Dalot showed that he was not afraid to run into opposition territory and provide crosses for his team mates. It was clear that he was up for the job on the day and he kept serving the crosses for things to happen.
Rashford also recorded good marks for his display.
He set up one goal and scored for himself to crown the day’s efforts. He used his pace to get into very good positions and Fulham had problems handling him.
But while the duo needs to be praised, there needs to be a reminder of the hours that must be put in to make them stand out.
The two must apply themselves in the area of making decisions especially Rashford. He must get better at thinking on his feet and doing what will aid the team’s progress.
He must know when his team mates are available, when to go full throttle, when to stagger the run, when to shoot and/or cross.
It is difficult to tell if it is down to a failure in coaching or the exuberance of youth is getting the better part of him.
Whatever the ails are, his potential must be honed brilliantly if he will get talked about in the same discussions as Kylian Mbappe; the world’s best U-21 player at the moment.
The collective can actually triumph
The victory was recorded against Fulham; a team that has a very poor defence and so, there is nothing major to read from that. That may be the argument of some fans and observers but the game was won without Paul Pogba. This is not indication that the Frenchman is not needed at Old Trafford. He is needed and he will be needed.
But then, the victory points that if the collective works every time, good results will be the consequence.
The team needs to get out of the current slump and that will mean that non-performers must not get on the wagon unless they are willing to do their bit to help matters and Pogba is not bigger than that concept.
He will come back into the game but he also needs to admit to himself that he has not played as well as he should have always done.
Last week against Southampton, he was poor and there is no need to mask that truth.
All other under-performing players must also see that they can be left out when they fall below the required standard.
It is time for the collective to reign supreme and it is in this regime that the star players will rise. When the team shines, the star will shine brighter.