A dreadful start became a beautiful end as United dispatched of Watford. Up until the goal from the spot for Bruno’s first goal as a red, the better team was definitely the one in black and yellow. A goal cancelled by VAR for a handball in the build up was the pivotal moment as United flew forward from there. The second could only be described as sublime from Martial and Greenwood added the third was a rocket, which we will surely become quite accustom to.
If there is one thing to be taken from today and the win on Monday, it is that being able to rely on quality, as frustrating as it can be when it has no consistency, is as important as any tactic can be. Martial personifies this feeling in the squad more than most but in a period without Rashford and Pogba, he has stepped up in a period where we needed a player to make the decisive differences. The inclusion of Bruno has more than helped but what was most heartening about the goal today was that it was probably the most individualistic goal in recent times. It came from better centre forward play, making a run into the left space between CB and FB, but the spin and chip after the initial spurned chance is what makes so many want to keep the belief in him. The all round performances still isn’t of the required level, as his passing and touches have been incredibly lax of late, but if he has found the penchant to score even without being involved/playing well, it will bode well in the future once he does begin to play well again.
The way United started, it looked like being a long afternoon, as the Hornets played as if they were, constantly buzzing around when the Red Devils tried to build through the middle of the pitch and in the first phases of play. Today, the amount of turnovers that came from the midfield alone was ridiculous and Fred looked more like his old, less impressive, self as Deeney’s back tackling was the biggest fruit for Watford when United had the ball. Matic and Fred were far too wide & high when the ball was lost further up the pitch and we were ready to be countered on multiple occasions. They offered very little in the way of protection, which seemed to breed a lot of uncertainty in Maguire and Lindelof. The first half was peppered with jittery, indecisive decisions that only served to build the pressure on the team as a whole. Remarkably, Shaw and Wan Bissaka were undeterred by the silliness around them, putting in one of their best performances of the season. The RB especially in possession was a good deal better than his usual.
It is just a breath of fresh air to see a player genuinely attempt the harder pass and do so continually until it actually works because with the aforementioned absences, we have seen a real lack of creative edge in the team. Bruno Fernandes has brought some of that edge back and today’s appearance became his show by the end. At one point in the second half, any and every positive play seemed to have the Portuguese involved. He made runs in behind, like the penalty he won, to duly convert himself. He would drop deep as the CMs found trouble in doing so themselves. What was most impressive was the final pass, illustrated perfectly by Martial’s and Greenwood’s goal. It is now a very good start for the £48m man and just whets the appetite for the years he will be plying his trade at Old Trafford.