Sunday 3 January 2016

Young, Martial shine and a (potential) turning point

Saturday's win over Swansea was a welcome boost on many levels: a much improved performance, the first win in nine games and, above all, a return to scoring form for the skipper.

Excellent individual displays from Ashley Young and Anthony Martial were cause for optimism, and the desire and spirit shown to come through with the win after being pegged back was in start contrast to the meek and limp surrenders of late.

Reds manager Louis van Gaal described the win as a "fantastic starting point" and he's right- one swallow does not make a summer and victory over a struggling side is the lowest of expectations at United.

Our season looked to heading over the cliff and on to the rocks after Boxing Day but the performance against Chelsea and again here have given the fans renewed hope and the belief that we might, just might, be beginning to build momentum.

Has this win signified a turning point? It's hard to make judgement on this match alone but we'll know for sure in the next few weeks with favourable looking fixtures against Sheffield United, Newcastle and out-of-form Southampton- not to mention Anfield- on the horizon.

The team have been lacking in confidence recently but Anthony Martial has bucked that trend and continued his upward trajectory with another masterful attacking display against the Swans.

The young Frenchman scored one and created the winner for Rooney and his power, pace and direct style caused Swansea problems all afternoon.

Too many players in this United side are unwilling to take on and beat their men but Martial bucks that trend, too, and Van Gaal needs to build the team around him.

There was a clamour to play Martial centrally after a series of indifferent displays on the wing, but against Chelsea he roasted Branislav Ivanovic and again yesterday had Angel Rangel tied up in knots playing wide on the left in arguably his best game in a United shirt.

It's still arguable that Young isn't a full-back, but the former Aston Villa man has certainly improved his defensive discipline and positional sense since Van Gaal took charge.

As the right wing-back, he was United's biggest threat and pinned back their left-back Neil Taylor in a man of the match showing. 

He was one of our best players last season- with his Manchester derby display particularly memorable- and has continued to impress this season (bar the occasional off-day) despite being shunted around the pitch in a number of sometimes alien positions.

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