A sodden late August night in Hull could be analysed months down the line as one of the defining victories for Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. Saturday’s victory at the KCOM Stadium rekindled vintage Manchester United characteristics inherent in our DNA, a throwback to the glory days not too far passed under Sir Alex Ferguson. Those hard-fought one-nil victories, not pretty on the eye when the chips appear down can be the difference when the medals are handed out.
To delineate Mourinho’s United as serious title contenders and herald a new era akin to Ferguson’s all-dominating helm after a mere two-hundred and seventy odd minutes of competitive action could be interpreted as a premature fervour. After the hardship and ordeal suffered under the previous two in the hot-seat, we can be forgiven for believing something potentially glorious is brewing, right?
United’s Premier League sovereignty of the nineties and noughties was exemplified by foundations which became the bedrock of their success: The innate unwillingness to never give in until the last, a relentless wave of red besieging the opposition goal with attack after attack, the merciless ability to win games in the dying embers in hallmark smash and grab fashion. That is Manchester United. Jose Mourinho tasted that for the first time on Saturday, it should be an education the Portuguese should embrace.
Equally fitting was the match winner against a dogged Hull City side- One of our own, the boy wonder Marcus Rashford. One unequivocal stigma surrounding Mourinho’s appointment as manager, among some concerned minds, was the aversion that some of the club’s most talented youngsters would miss out on vital first-team exposure, afforded to them under Van Gaal.
That fear was resonating as Rashford had not taken to the turf in the victories over Bournemouth and Southampton. Special talents, however, cannot be denied their place in the limelight for too long though. He has a gift God-given, which simply cannot be taught by any tactical Messiah- the natural striker’s predatory instinct of grabbing goals in the six-yard box. You either have it or you don’t, that dying art.
Latching onto Wayne Rooney’s inviting cross from a penetrative surge on the left-wing, Rashford evaded his marker to find the net, which sparked wild scenes of unbridled joy. Take a look at the celebrations once again: A young eighteen year old striker, still learning the ropes with braces round his teeth, winning the hearts and minds of seasoned professionals and icons of the game in Rooney and Zlatan, who have won everything there is to win in this great game. Seeing young talent flourish, like Rashford undoubtedly will, will keep the fires of the comparatively aged duo burning strong.
Rashford will unquestionably be floating on air in the mere presence of players of that ilk. That Mourinho spoke so glowingly of the youngster will only add to the confidence of the already fearless, yet humble star. He appears simply thankful to be given the opportunity to strut his stuff for the club of his dreams. Mourinho’s eyes have now been opened to what Rashford is capable of. No ceiling is too high for the youngster and his contribution will result in increased opportunities and a future as bright as any in the game.
There is nothing like a last minute winner, no better feeling. That is what we all love about Manchester United. Their party piece of yester year, a skill lost in the last three years. Rashford’s winner evoked wild scenes which unfortunately reared a sickening side too. The sight of a stricken woman, at the front of a supporter crush, could have had far more disastrous consequences. In the Stretford End, I’ve got carried away with certain goals, but supporter safety is most paramount on match-day. I’d like to extend personal best wishes to the woman concerned and congratulations to Marouane Fellaini for identifying her in distress.
Fergie Time and the old United were rekindled at Hull, bring on the derby!