After an away win of good value against Brentford just a few days prior, earning them their 300th away win, Manchester United welcomed former boss’ West Ham United side to Old Trafford for the final game before a break from Premier League football.
The upcoming break could have been a sour 2 weeks but instead are going to be a fortnight with us United supporters desperate to see the team back in full preparation at Carrington and continue on their charge towards earning Champions League football for next season as well as trying to bring silverware back to Old Trafford in Rangnick’s spell as interim manager.
And honestly, after THAT ending to the game, who can blame us?!
The game began with United exhibiting a lot of energy with the players, set up in Ralf Rangnick‘s currently preferred shape of the 4-3-3, pressing intensely in order to try and create opportunities for rapid transition. In the 4th minute itself, Bruno Fernandes pressed very well and was presented with a great opportunity in the form of a loose pass from a West Ham player. United’s No.18 created an excellent chance for Mason Greenwood with the young forward unfortunately not being able to convert.
Another chance, once again created by Bruno Fernandes presented itself in the form of a lovely delivery from deep towards Cristiano Ronaldo, however, the usually prolific aerialist was unable to get a header on target towards goal.
However, United slowed down as the half progressed, allowing West Ham to grow into the game. The game then morphed into something United supporters will know and bemoan all too well, the continuous back and forth between the 2 teams, with both teams jousting and neither really controlling the game.
However, Rangnick’s choices of substitutes and the sheer quality that United had on their bench resulted in an absolutely glorious winner scored in the dying seconds of the game, a Fergie Time moment that will live in fans’ memories for quite some time. A Fergie Time winner that earned all 3 points for Rangnick’s Reds.
David de Gea – 6/10
De Gea was not tested all that much in this game. Most of the time he was comfortable and simply passing the ball to his centre backs in the buildup. However, in the second half, there was a moment where an awkward deflection came off Raphael Varane and De Gea did well to react and prevent an embarrassing goal.
His shot-stopping prowess wasn’t on full display tonight and it’s to the credit of our entire team that it didn’t have to be. However, De Gea’s on-ball abilities and his proactivity as a goalkeeper still leave a lot to be desired and if he wants to continue being United’s undisputed No.1, he must work diligently on those aspects of his game.
Diogo Dalot – 6/10
Dalot’s defensive abilities have come a long, long, way this season. He no longer seems like a total liability defensively with his managers being forced to start Aaron Wan-Bissaka as a result. In fact, in aspects of off-ball defending, a real argument can now be made that Dalot is performing in a superior fashion to Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
However, while he was comfortable in possession, his crossing deliveries left a fair bit to be desired. The majority of Dalot’s crosses were overhit and didn’t cause West ham any difficulties. That said, he made one cross to Anthony Elanga which was quite nice and allowed the Swedish youngster to get a shot away.
Raphäel Varane – 8/10
Varane once again started at the heart of the defence, swapping his partner in Victor Lindelöf (whom I hope is doing well and is alongside his family after their traumatic ordeal) for Harry Maguire.
Varane was aerially dominant and defended excellently, aided by the team doing very good work to help protect the defence. He seemed to perhaps pick up a knock but if Varane can stay fit for the rest of the season, he will be integral to United’s ambitions for the 21/22 season.
Harry Maguire – 9/10
After a few games spent on the sidelines, club captain Harry Maguire returned to the starting lineup.
And my oh my what a performance it was! Maguire snuffed out danger, was an aerial monster and collaborated with Varane excellently to help his side earn a well deserved clean sheet. His ability on the ball was very helpful and we can only hope this is a turning point for him this season! Most definitely my MOTM.
Alex Telles – 5/10
Telles had an okay game. The difference in profiles between him and Luke Shaw could not be clearer however Telles is not the glaring liability that he was once considered and is now a fairly serviceable option to fill in should Luke Shaw be unavailable.
It must also be said that his pass was the spark that led to the lone goal of the match.
Scott McTominay – 6/10
McTominay seems to really have turned a corner under Rangnick. He routinely attempts to pass progressively now and seems to be a far more disciplined midfielder. McTominay’s work this match played a large part in earning the clean sheet.
That said, McTominay did give away the ball in some extremely dangerous situations a couple of times, and that’s something he needs to weed out of his game. He performed alright but it wasn’t a performance near that in quality of that against Brentford.
Fred – 7/10
Another workhorse performance from the Brazilian midfielder. Fred pressed and harried but, at least from what I saw, did nothing very special. But that’s okay! He was tidy on the ball and somehow even managed to get a shot away from a good position in the opposition box! If anyone knows Fred’s history, the very fact that Areola had to make a save is a credit to the Brazilian!
Bruno Fernandes – 7/10
United’s No.18 created 2 excellent chances in the 1st half, both of which should have been scored in my opinion, one by Mason Greenwood and the other by Cristiano Ronaldo.
How Bruno operates in Rangnick’s 4-3-3 is so interesting to watch because he’s far less wasteful and doesn’t continuously keep ceding possession because he’s trying something that he has basically no hope of pulling off.
Further, he didn’t gamble and his work rate off the ball was a sight to behold. He did try a bit more hero-ball than I would have liked however it was a good performance from the resurgent midfielder.
Mason Greenwood – 6/10
The young forward had a relatively quiet game but I have to say I really expected him to at least get a shot on target from the chance that Bruno created for him in the 4th minute, if not score. That said, United’s No.11 worked very hard out of possession and can look forward to being a heavily involved member of Manchester United’s future in the years to come.
After all, he is Manchester United’s “Starboy”!
Cristiano Ronaldo – 6/10
The usually prolific forward really should have scored a headed goal from Fernandes’ delivery in the 20th minute but apart from that, the rest of his performance can be termed as “okay”.
What I don’t understand is why Cristiano continually attempts to drop and link play when he’s not only average at it, he’s pretty poor at it. He has done it for so long, one has to assume that he’s following instructions in doing so. What I will say however is that Cristiano’s work rate off the ball has definitely increased a fairly noticeable amount. Not necessarily tracking however Cristiano has started pressing with conviction which is great to see.
United’s No.7 was also involved in the build-up to the goal, playing it through to Anthony Martial.
Anthony Elanga – 6/10
While Elanga didn’t have as good a game as he did against Brentford, he still put in his 100% and his work rate was second to none. The young Swede also struck a volley sweetly from a cross from Diogo Dalot however failed to find the target with the strike. It must be remembered that his career is still in its infancy and there’s definitely more to see from the Scandinavian forward.
Marcus Rashford – 8/10
The goalscorer! United’s #10! Nothing more needs to be said other than the fact that Rashford very intelligently made the run to the back post and deservedly got a goal that resulted in an eruption at Old Trafford!
2 goals in 2 games? Onwards and upwards for Dr. Marcus Rashford MBE!
Edinson Cavani – 8/10
Timed his run to receive the pass from Martial brilliantly. I also must highlight his selflessness, this is an out and out No. 9 and he still elected to cross the ball (wonderfully might I add) to Rashford because he knew that would maximize the chances of United scoring!
He’s had his difficulties at United and had his share of controversy but I will most certainly miss the Uruguayan international. As they say, “enjoy it while it lasts.”
Anthony Martial – 8/10
A man who hasn’t been enjoying himself much on the football pitch at Old Trafford as of late, Anthony Martial was given a rare opportunity to try and come on to change the game. Change it he did.
Martial’s dropping and linkup play was on full display for all to behold, he’s still comfortably our 2nd best forward at linking play after Jadon Sancho. Martial played with energy and did his defensive work dutifully, tracking back and pressing as required.
Martial was heavily involved in the build-up to Rashford’s goal and in fact even had a chance to score himself, having ghosted into the opposition box however his lack of match sharpness obviously played its part and led to him being unable to take his chance.
I cannot wait to see him play more of a part in the rest of United’s season!
That was definitely a very enjoyable game with nothing short of a blockbuster finale!
I must commend Ralf Rangnick greatly for his 3 substitutes were the ones that changed everything and all 3 combined to score the winning goal and earn United the 3 points to take us into the top 4 for the time being!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go chant “50 million down the drain as Tony Martial scores again” for the next 2 weeks!