The season took an ugly turn just before the international break, and there have—rightly—been plenty of physical and digital column inches dedicated to all the things that are wrong at United at the moment.
However, we here at TOP FIVE towers, aim to brighten your day rather than darken it whenever that is possible, so without further ado, we present the TOP FIVE glorious moments of the season so far. There have been some, belters, honest.
5. Juan Mata’s pass to Chris Smalling against Wolfsburg
A Bastian Schweinsteiger’s miss kick was responsible for one of the season’s best moments so far. Juan Mata had done a superb job under pressure when he took the spot kick which levelled the score. However, his best was yet to come.
Watching from North East tier two, it was not clear what he had done, but even from that distance, it seemed like he had done something special. Watching it back on television later that night, it was simply breathtaking.
Okay, there was an element of fortune about the fact that Chris Smalling was alive enough to latch on to the chance—and a capable enough finisher to complete the job. But Mata’s improvisational brilliance put the ball into a very dangerous spot when no one thought it would end up there. Mata has been superb in select moments this season and that was one of them.
4. Anthony Martial’s second goal – the first against Southampton
It wasn’t as if this was some kind of epoch defining wondergoal or anything. Rather it was the fact that after his incredible debut against Liverpool (of which—spoiler alert—more later) seeing Martial score a well taken striker’s goal was further evidence to support the train of thought which ran “wait a minute, is this kid actually a brilliant footballer already”?
It is too early to say, important to keep expectations reasonable, keep our feet and his on the ground etc. etc. etc. but he followed up his debut with a line-leading performance against PSV Eindhoven where he essentially looked like the best player on the pitch, then scored a brace in his next game, and, incidentally, just got two assists for France in two international games.
He’s the real deal, folks, and the first goal against Southampton came with the glorious realisation that that might be the case.
3. Bastian Schweinsteiger’s Manchester United Debut
It came around five years too late, but Schweinsteiger in a United shirt is a sight to behold. The goosebump inducing moment when he came on against Tottenham Hotspur, replacing Michael Carrick to a rapturous ovation was the Schweinsteiger moment, but it inclusion is a chance to talk about how good he has been.
Okay, he was pretty bobbins against Arsenal, but apart from that, it has been splendid having him about the place. Seeing him with his arm round Memphis, or chatting with Paddy McNair in the warm up, or seeing him instantly find space other midfielders had somehow missed when coming on as a sub. Seeing him run the game against Liverpool following his arrival into that one. Seeing him clap J Stand after the Sunderland game as they belted out “Deutscher Fußballmeister” for the umpteenth time.
Bastian makes the world seem a little brighter, and having him at United is just ace.
2. De Gea’s Deadline Day Disaster
Midnight on the day in which the La Liga transfer window closed, though. Now THAT was hilarious. The horrible sinking realisation that the inevitable had come to pass and that De Gea would be a Real Madrid player now and we would all have to get used to a post-De Gea universe was an uncomfortable feeling. Then, suddenly, social media began to catch fire. The rumours were amazing, laugh-out-loud Tweets came thick and fast. United had password protected the file. All the fax machines were broken. All the classics.
Of course, the working assumption for a while would be that Madrid would still get their man. However, the next morning arrived, and despite duelling press releases from United and Madrid, the status quo remained intact, and De Gea remained at Old Trafford. Brilliant.
1. “Ohhh yyyesss! Welcome to Manchester United, Anthony Marseeaall!”
Before most of us knew Martial was brilliant, there was just the transfer fee, and a great wave of confusion that after a summer of being linked with the great and the good of world football, we’d ended up with a French teenager. Had finishing fourth once turned us into Arsenal?
20 minutes into his debut, many of those doubts were spectacularly allayed when he scored a wondergoal, against Liverpool, in front of the Stretford End. His finish was so cool, his celebration relatively understated given the magnitude of the goal and the run with which he set himself up for the goal…Wow.
Whatever happens from here on out, this season has already provided a moment that will be seared into the mind’s eye of anyone who saw it for a long time to come. Welcome to Manchester United, Anthony Martial. It’s a pleasure to have you here. Here is to many more moments like that one.