Sunday 20 March 2016

Manchester is Red as Rashford rises to sink City

Louis van Gaal has been living with speculation about his future since before Christmas, and he awoke to reports from Spain claiming the imminent arrival of Jose Mourinho.

But yet once more, he managed to grind out an important victory which not only gives United and their fans the pleasure of a victory over their arch rivals but keeps them right in the hunt for a top-four finish.

Van Gaal has been criticised this season but one area where he deserves immense credit is his willingness to put faith in youth-  and Marcus Rashford delivered for him with a wonderful piece of skill and initiative that got him the goal.

He also made the wise decision to go without Marouane Fellaini and restore Morgan Schneiderlin whom duly delivered his best performance in a United shirt to date.

This took away United's temptation to hit long balls towards the Belgian midfielder - awful in recent weeks - and meant we could utilise the verve, pace and width provided by young attacking trio Jesse Lingard, Rashford and Anthony Martial.

It gave United extra fluency as well as speed and greater tempo without Fellaini clogging things up and slowing moves down and perhaps this will be a lesson that Van Gaal will now learn.

Rashford showed his precocious skill at 18 years and 141 days with a demonstration of lightning pace and fleet of foot to ghost past hapless City centre-back Demichelis and slide home the finish of a veteran.

The Dutchman may yet go at the end of the season - indeed this still looks more than likely - but with United still in the race for the top four and still in the FA Cup, he may leave Old Trafford with something to remember him by.

Van Gaal's decision to play Lingard at no.10 ahead of Juan Mata paid off as  United were the better team in the first half and took their one real chance.
Asked to do an unfamiliar job behind the striker, Lingard was impressive and linked the play to excellent effect.

He found a lot of space in between City's defence and midfield, especially in the first half, and did a valuable spoiling job on Fernandinho when City had the ball. 

We had to weather a second half onslaught but - thanks to the performance of Chris Smalling and Daley Blind whom were both outstanding - we stood up well.

The Reds are still in the race for the top four and a point off fourth place with eight games to go.

It's going to be tight - especially with difficult trips to Tottenham and West Ham to come - but we've given ourselves a chance which looked unlikely a few weeks ago. 

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