Dear United : A Letter From A Ghanaian Fan
I was 13 when I first got my Playstation 2. I remember it quite well because it was something I had looked forward to for such a long time. Me getting my hands on one meant my grades had to be exceptional at the end of the academic year. Unfortunately it was tough and frankly, I can be honest with myself now and say I did not put in the maximum effort required that year. My parents believed strongly in rewarding effort and hard work. They were quite strict in using that to determine the things we had or did not have. So at the end of that academic year, it was only natural that the only thing I expected to be getting from them was a good rollicking which I did get. But what I did not expect a week later was to come home one day from a friends place to find a neatly wrapped package on my bed. You see my parents were confident I was going to excel that year based on my previous performances and simply jumped the gun that one time in an attempt to surprise me. Oops!
Yesterday’s performance and result was one I hardly expected too. If I ever thought you were going to beat Chelsea at Old Trafford that well and keep a cleansheet, it was largely hope rather than confidence. When the lineups came out I am pretty sure that me, along with several other football fans, were expecting another defeat — or a draw at best. All of those negative expectations from a United perspective were wiped out after 7 minutes. Chelsea looked….off. At least until we realized that it was not just that, but you were legitimately up the fight and Jose had his men dancing to his tune to perfection.
The fans showed up as I had hoped and the team responded. Not a single one of those players can be faulted for a lack of effort. Not even Ashley Young who missed two good opportunities to inflict more damage to the opposition. There were moments where Diego Costa tried to spark some fight but they ultimately left the Theater of Dreams battered and bruised.
One observation I made from the game was how well Marcus Rashford seem to play with support up top. Im now tempted to believe the team will get the very best out of him if he played with support up top in a 4–4–2. In the past I've always wondered if he and Zlatan could play together up top, Ibrahimovic with his experience knowing when to give a pass and weight of the pass, when to shoot, with Rashford complimenting him with his pace and youthful exuberance. There has been a lot of talk about how much Zlatan’s style of play influences how the team plays with some suggesting that Zlatan is the team’s best player because they play to his strengths.
Can you please put in a word for Ander Herrera to be given the armband whenever Rooney or Carrick are not playing? His performance yesterday was almost perfect. Hustled and hurried Hazard all game as he was obviously instructed to do, while managing to record a goal and a brilliant assist in the process. He leaves nothing to suggest he does not give everything on the field each game.
I know what I said earlier about every single one of the players putting in enormous effort in getting a well deserved victory. But it was still worrying slightly that even in a game like this, Pogba’s influence on the game went slightly under the radar once again. He had his moments in the game but there were times when it felt like he was trying too hard to complicate things when a simple pass would've sufficed. Also it appeared the system adopted for this game limited his role significantly and that could have probably made him feel the need to do more in certain moments in the game to make his presence felt.
The manager did indeed pick this side with Thursday in mind but how well prepared this team were for this game has to be commended. Jose deserves all the plaudits as much as his players do. The pain from previous defeats would be significantly reduced after this, and him pointing to the United badge as he walked down the tunnel suggests that any emotional ties to his former club are firmly in the past now.
This victory momentarily puts you back in the hunt for a top four finish, but with games against City rivals, Arsenal and Spurs still yet to come in the remaining few weeks, the team is going to have to repeat this performance a few more times for the rest of this season. Bring on Thursday!
A Ghanaian fan.