Manchester United will begin a new decade breathing down the necks of Liverpool after a late Marcus Rashford winner sent the Reds soaring into second place – only two points behind the leaders and champions with a game in hand.
The Reds had toiled for 90 arduous minutes in the face of a wall built across the six yard box by a resilient and resolute Wolves side, but finally got reward when Marcus Rashford cut inside and curled home with the aid of a deflection. By hook or by crook, Manchester United continue to get the job done. Here are three things we learned from Old Trafford:
21 coming in 2021?
What’s that old adage? Sometimes you have to win ugly when not playing well, and United have perfected that particular art. This was a match so in keeping with many that had gone before, in that we carried an unconvincing air but still got over the line when it mattered. This was a showing as bad as I can remember but the league table doesn’t lie – second in it and two points behind Liverpool with a game in hand. Not bad for a PE teacher with no tactics. You love to see it. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to dread having to play Wolves. Every time we play them, the games are as dull as the proverbial dishwater. A far from vintage performance sealed by a vintage Fergie-time winner from one of our own. Is there anything more Manchester United? This was a win deserved not for quality or flair but from ambition and persistence and, for all of the Reds toil, this is a side with spirit and character in abundance. As the season approaches its halfway stage, United – in this most crazy and unpredictable of seasons – are firmly in the hunt for the title. Do I think we’ll definitely win it? I don’t like to say – it’s still too early for talk of the ‘T’ word, but there’s a certain symmetry for our 21st coronation coming in the year 2021 and we have a chance. Written in the stars?
Rashford rises to send United second
Whilst many of us will want to forget 2020 in a hurry, for Marcus Rashford MBE it will be forever be remembered. Our no.10 stood up to those residing in the number he adorns, taking on the government and winning in his battle for equality and to end child poverty, receiving recognition from Her Majesty in the process. Winning admirers around the globe for his unstinting efforts in the face of staunch opposition amid a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, Rashford kept his focus to performing on the pitch too. 22 goals marked his best season in front of goal for the Reds in 2019-20, a tally he is already eight shy of this time around. As a Manchester United player, it takes some doing to be universally like, but Rashford has managed to do so. An well-spoken, intelligent and an articulate young man with wisdom beyond his years, and one of our own to boot, this has been a coming of age year for the man who can do no wrong. This is Marcus Rashford’s world, and we’re all living it.
Bailly excels in aerial battles
On a night when few in Red shone, Eric Bailly had a stormer at the heart of the Reds defence. The Ivorian more than justified his selection in the absence of the injured Victor Lindelof and benched Axel Tuanzebe. Bailly won everything, used possession prudently and dealt with everything that came his way, even against a Wolves side missing talismanic figurehead Raul Jimenez. The men from the Midlands created little and came for the draw, but Bailly showed why he should be a regular starter as he shackled Neto and dealt with Podence once he came on. He complements Harry Maguire well, he’s quick, good on the ball and can do things defensively no one else in this side can. He can be reckless and can leave you watching from behind the sofa, but I love the way this man plays, he makes defending fun to watch and, if he can stay fit and injury free, he will have a big role to play. The defensive area of the team remains United’s Achilles heel, but a healthy and in-form Bailly is our best centre-back and can go a long way to resolving those shortcomings.