1. United won a game! At home! Oh, happy day! Thanks to that victory, now only eight teams have picked up more points at home than us. Carry on like this and we’ll soon be competing with Stoke and Southampton’s home form! In all seriousness, that was a good performance from United today and we should remember that Aston Villa have beaten the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal this season.
2. All the pre-match talk surrounded the plane with the ‘Moyes out’ banner attached. Was it the right thing to do? How would the fans inside the ground react? Would this sway the Glazers’ decision? Unfortunately, I don’t have a first hand account of the event as the overturned lorry on Chester Road meant I didn’t get in to the ground until after kick-off, like so many other fans. Of course, we couldn’t expect the club to delay kick-off so that the fans could see the game when BT Sport had rights to it. But by all accounts, the plane wasn’t well received by the fans inside the ground, and this was only further emphasised by several chants of “every single one of us will stand by David Moyes” and “David Moyes’ red and white army”. Strange behaviour, but more than likely in response to that tacky plane. Did the stunt backfire? Undoubtedly. Still, credit to Moyes for coming on to the pitch early. Takes guts to do that on a day when you know the fans have paid close to a grand to voice their displeasure over the job you’re doing. Imagine if he had been booed by all four stands? Fair play to him.
3. Wayne Rooney proved yet against just how important he is to United. He now has 25 goals and assists in 25 starts (27 appearances) which is an incredible return, particularly in a team that is struggling. He got himself in to a great position to level the score after conceding early on, heading in an inch-perfect cross from Shinji Kagawa, then put us 2-1 up just before half-time. Having relinquished penalty taking duty after a poor record from the spot, it was a huge relief to see him put the ball so close to the post.
4. Juan Mata! We’ve been waiting for him to get off the mark and it looked as though he was about to do just that in the first half. But then he was taken out and somehow the defender avoided a red card, despite denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. But then in the second half, despite Marouane Fellaini’s best attempts to fuck it up, Mata scored his first United goal. He ran straight to the Sir Alex Ferguson stand, visibly delighted, before then celebrating with his team mates and the Stretford End. Mata went to the museum this week and, just in case you thought you couldn’t love him any more, said: “I think every player should know about the history of the club and what it means to play here.” Yeh, I’m smitten.
5. One of the few downsides of the game was Chicharito’s reaction to the goal he scored. Having come on for a brief cameo and still managing to find the back of the net, he didn’t really know what do with himself when it came to celebrating. He just stood in front of the Stretford End, no usual cheeky grin, before just walking away. When the final whistle blew, and the rest of the team hugged each other and shook hands with the opposition, Chicharito headed straight for the tunnel. He’s entitled to be pissed off. He’s barely been given a chance this season and even with Robin van Persie’s injury, he’s still not getting a look in. It’s a sad ending to his time at the club, given how popular he is with the fans.
6. The midfield seems to tick over a lot better when Darren Fletcher starts. The game moves more quickly, with Fletch keen to pass the ball forward and get on with the game, rather than trying to pick out the perfect pass and slowing everything down like Carrick does.
7. Januzaj has played twice in March, both appearances for 75 minutes, but yesterday showed again why he is worthy of a start. He attempted and competed more take ons than any player on the pitch, despite getting a fraction of the time of everyone else, and only Mata was fouled more times than him, showing how much the Villa defence struggled with him. His ball in to Chicharito was perfect and it would be great to see him starting against Bayern.
8. All in all, it was a good afternoon for United. The points at this stage don’t really matter, but the players coming back from 1-0 down to put in a good performance and take advantage of their chances, regardless of the opposition, is a positive thing. Let’s see where we end up on Tuesday…
The RoM Manchester United 2021-22 season preview is now available for just £6. It includes articles from the country's best football writers about our expectations for the season ahead and our brightest talents, as well as proposed transfer business and which youth players to keep an eye out for. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.