The United crowd seem to have a nice effect on the players as they recorded yet another win in front of the Old Trafford faithful. The Brentford Bees were the ones who suffered this time and it came courtesy of a solitary Rashford goal, his first in three. A cross from Antony into Sabitzer, who had the speed of thought to nod down to Rashford in a better position, allowed for an easy finish to halt his mini drought of three games. In the first half, United’s pressure should have probably been rewarded with one more goal. The second half was much more even and De Gea had to stand big to deny Schade as he raced down to his goal. Outside of that, the West London club offered little in attacking threat and it was a deserved victory from the Ten Hag’s men to put them back on track and into the top four.

Three Days Later

Prolonged bad times can often make you so pessimistic that a blip during a good period can make all those terrible feelings cascade back with a heavy effect.

When I watched the Newcastle game on Sunday, it gave me an eerie feeling of the 2018/19 season whereby United went on such a brilliant run and after a moment of genuine high, the PSG win then and the Carabao Cup win now, it all came crashing down back to Earth. Then, what was to blame was the change in manager, one who felt that the players were unable to carry out the physical work he required so they essentially went on a mini pre-season in the middle of the season. It caught up to the players at the end of the season, as they only managed 2 wins in the last 9 league games.

Contemporarily, United have been unable to replicate any sort of the resulting form after that good day out at Wembley. The performance and result at St James Park was worrying in more ways than one because it may have spelled an ensuing bad spell that the Red Devils would have to feebly crawl through. However, in the first 60 minutes at least, you saw a performance quite like any other antecedent. For a while, United have not been able to ably pin back an opponent by possession. Today, Brentford were essentially unable to get up the pitch for the whole of the first half.


It started with the full backs. Dalot, Shaw, then Malacia as the Englishman succumbed to a hamstring injury, were doing a terrific job. Plenty a time you see that a full back will dovetail with the movement of their winger but what was so good about the right and left back today is that they done so with each other. In that, if one full back was filling in a space inside, the other would make sure that they went outside. With Sancho and Antony both looking to come inside, the Brentford wing backs thought they would be able to play narrowly but this movement created all sorts of problems around them. This created the positional space in both the first and third phase.

As usual, in the backline, Martinez took charge in terms of ball progression. He did so in as much as his carrying as his typical passing today but it was Bruno that really caught the eye in a role that is pretty alien to him. He was the deepest midfielder for much of the match and he did so splendidly. With all the numbers he has accrued, he has done so with a style that can leave a lot to be desired when it comes to controlling a football match. As a No.10, there are times he hastily rids himself of the ball when keeping composure should be paramount. Today, as the No.6, he was excellent and if you were to talk about overall performances, this is probably the best the Portuguese attacking midfielder has played. When it comes to controlling a game from midfield on the ball, it is about knowing when to slow it down, circulate to open up a gap somewhere else or go to the furthest man or play it through the lines to penetrate a deep block. Bruno Fernandes was excellent at all 3 today that not comes in direct polarisation to his position but also his way of playing.

Other Thoughts

Not many times you can say a left back has come on and put himself in contention to be man of the match but that is what Malacia done today. Even though he is still lacking in the decisive moments, in his defending and building up from the back, he offers just as much as Luke Shaw, even if it was in different ways.

McTominay has to be shouted out for a good solid performance, particularly in the second half, as he produced the blocks, tackles and carries that have come to characterise his game. In the long run, what he does give won’t amount to much and it is literally placeholding for Casemiro but it was sufficient for the night.

Sabitzer also had his best game in United red today. He was the furthest forward of the three, a role he is especially familiar with, and it looked so on that viewing. Surprisingly, he offered a lot more in the air than one would have thought and allowed us to mix up our game when Brentford did decide to press us high up. If that will be enough to convince the board to part with money for him to make his stay in Manchester permanent is a mystery but for tonight, he gave an admirable display.