In the Black Country, a colourful set of events happened. Rashford opened the scoring with Hojlund’s help and then it was reversed. Sarabia scored from the spot but McTominay restored the two goal cushion. Max Kilman and Pedro Neto managed to make it level and it seemed like another night of despair for United until Mainoo jinked and jinked until he finessed the winner into the bottom corner. A game that exemplified exactly why to love and hate this club.
Familiarity is complicated, whereby you can start to get so familiar that you don’t appreciate what is in front of you. Football is one of the rare competencies where familiarity often breeds more adulation yet the same cannot be said for Marcus Rashford’s familiarity with the United fanbase.
The fact it has coincided with United worst period is 20-30 years has perhaps given it a much darker colour than it should be. Even with the proliferation of social media scrutiny, it shouldn’t be as polarised as it is. Then you think of the season he had last year, with the 30 goals and being the aging beacon that was essentially the driving force for the positive season under Erik Ten Hag’s tenure, it surely should have given some good grace.
But, that’s where the problem of familiarity builds in. Rashford has had a bad year. Up until the penalty against Everton in late November, he only had one goal in the league, a goal loss against Arsenal. It was nowhere near his exploits of last year. This with the on the field slump in performance and body language, plus the off the field complications, like the party after the City derby drumming and the Belfast Bender, it has now got to a point where many would rather see the back of the Mancunian born and bred.
After his admonishment, where he was dropped for the Newport FA Cup Tie and fined two weeks wages, he was given a first team slot after having had his tails firmly between his legs. He answered with a part in Hojlund’s goal but a goal to opening proceedings. It was a sort of placating act for the antics he indulged with that made it so he wouldn’t be involved over the weekend.
Acts like this are unforgettable for some and for others, it can be mitigated for what happened previous to him and his own circumstances but unfortunately, familiarity in this era runs so close that it doesn’t extend as much as it did before. The closeness of the world means that where Marcus Rashford’s adoration would last before it does not now. Familiarity is complicated and now Rashford’s relationship with the fanbase will be too, forever more.
Never out of the woods
Man Utd has been devoid of excitement for some time and even if the team has managed to be on the end of a win today, the fact that the team has been leading two times in a game and had to stumbled a win in the 97th minute shows the problems within all parts of the pitch.
Leading 3-2 in the final minute and yet conceding a goal with the final embers of the game remaining is simply something that is only possible from this Man Utd team. The fact it came from a corner just simply exemplifies the fact that this is team without the experiential nous to take a team over the line for just a simple set of 3 points let alone for anything of any significance. Mainoo’s winner to take back the two points surrendered should not distract from the fact that this was extremely close to the Red Devils suffering what they did in Copenhagen and Istanbul.