Thursday 31 December 2015

Happy New Year... here are our best moments of 2015

Life is never dull at the biggest club in the world and 2015 proved the typical roller coaster ride at Old Trafford.

Here we look at the best saves, goals, moments, performances and memorable moments of the past 12 months. 

So grab a glass of bubbly, drink it in and take a trip back down memory lane...

Best home performance (15th March: United 3-0 Spurs)

This clash came directly after the Reds bruising home defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup and was next in a hugely challenging run of games that included a trip to Anfield and a visit of Manchester City.
The stakes were high, but LVG's men showed no sign of nerves as they flew out of the traps and were 3-0 up with barely 30 minutes on the clock.
The magnificent Juan Mata pulled the strings as United overran the visitors in the first half and easily controlled the second, consolidating our top four spot and extinguishing Spurs own hopes of a Champions League place.
As important as the result, the injection of confidence proved crucial in advance of the upcoming fixtures.

Best away performance (17 October: Everton 0-3 United)

Goodison Park has been a real bogey ground in recent years but those memories were cast to one side as we completely dominated proceedings on the back of October's international break.
Just like the Spurs result above, this provided a real tonic to a painful defeat against Arsenal (0-3 away).

Best result (12 April: United 4-2 City)

Aaah the demolition derby.... it's hard to top when it comes to feeling chuffed.
A superb team performance by the Reds halted a run of four straight defeats to the neighbours and yielded four goals against them for the first time since Michael Owen scored that famous winner in 2009.
No wonder the fans left with grins as wide as the Manchester Ship Canal. Boom. Get in!!

Best goal (22 March: Juan Mata v Liverpool)

A runner up for the best result of 2015, the 2-1 win at Anfield was a match to warm the cockles of every United heart.
But Mata's exquisite scissors-kick on the hour mark would have been the toast of the town even
in a scrappy League Cup tie against lowly opposition in some far-flung outpost.
Mata's square pass, Angel Di Maria flicks it up and on, the Spaniard's graceful ascent, a hitch-hike and bang!. The ball's nestled in the corner. Magic.

Best save (20 September: Spanish Dave vs Jose Fonte)

Dave's saves lit up the calendar year repeatedly as he made a mockery of the apparently impossible time and again with some flabbergasting goalkeeping.
It's hard to pick just one but we've plumped for the Spaniard's ludicrous thwarting of Jose Fonte's header in the 3-2 win at St Mary's.

Best move (20 September: team goal v Southampton)

Juan Mata's goal at Southampton in September was the one that ended up winning United the game, and it came after a marathon passing move running to a full 45 passes.
Nine of United's 10 outfield players were involved (only Anthony Martial missed out) as the Reds kept the ball for two minutes and four seconds before Juan Mata slotted in the rebound from Memphis's shot that had cannoned back off the post.
Not one Southampton player got a  single touch on the ball between the moment Chris Smalling chested down a high ball and played a square pass to Marcos Rojo to start the move, and the ball hitting the back of the Saints net.

Best player: Chris (Mike) Smalling

The potential in Smalling had been glaring ever since his 2010 arrival at Old Trafford, only for the towering centreback to find his evolution stymied by a combination of injuries, positional changes and of course the small matter of displacing the enduring Ferdinand-Vidic axis at the heart of United's defence.
Starting every game bar Bournemouth away in the current campaign, Smalling has emphatically risen to the challenge of plugging the gap left by the 2014 departure of Rio and Vida.
Perhaps the finest athlete in the Reds' ranks, Chris's pace, power and distribution are now controlled by a dominant, positive attitude and that blend of brains and brawn has meant Smalling has been in 'beast mode' (to quote Ferdinand) in 2015.

Best breakthrough: Jesse Lingard

In a calendar year when nine United Academy graduates played for the first team, Lingard was the stand-out star to have risen through the Red ranks.
Having entered this season with just his August 2014 debut under his belt, the Warrington-born winger clocked up nine starts and three substitute appearances before Christmas, not to mention his first senior goal- a sweet strike against West Brom at the Stretford End in November.

Best moment (12 September: Anthony Martial's debut v Liverpool) 

All the best moments in football are created by goals and while there have may have been better (or arguably) more important ones scored in 2015, the dazzling debut strike by Anthony Martial against Liverpool was, in our opinion, the greatest individual moment of the year.
His deadline-day signing had been written off as a joke: a monumental waste of money and a panicky gamble on an untried youngster.
So when he scored a quite brilliant individual goal having come off the bench for his debut against our biggest rivals- who had just halved our two-goal lead with the best opposition goal of the year (by Christian Benteke) - OT erupted in raw, visceral joy and the doubters were instantly silenced.

Here's to 2016. 

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