More like what we should have seen away at Stoke a couple of weeks ago. On that occasion, United came from behind to lead but wilted. Yesterday, they managed to hold their own against an improved Southampton to register their best start to a premier league season in six years!
Not Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer …. [Name him] had as consistent an impact as Romelu Lukaku has had…… at least in terms of goals scored during the start of their careers at United! Only Louis Saha (remember him) can hold a candle to the six in six league games Lukaku has to show off so far. Yesterday’s goal wasn’t just for the goal difference column like most that have come before. No. It was the match winner in conditions Sports scientists can attribute to an otherwise laborious display.
Indeed the manger explained away in his post match presser that United have not played in such ‘beautiful’ weather since pre-season in Los Angeles. The unrelenting Manchester rain accounts for what you’d put down as ‘different conditions’ when United are at home on match days, moreso in training sessions. It wasn’t quite the press joke therefore when Jose stated that in Manchester, you cannot replicate the sunny conditions United found themselves in yesterday regardless if training is cheduled for 11am, 12pm or 3pm. It was therefore, always going to be a tough outing at three o’clock in the South Coast sun.
Even so, victory in the manner that it was achieved will satisfy the manager much more than those 4-0 wins ever will. Jose is a pragmatist first and anything else second. As such he was never going to heed calls from fans to introduce Anthony Martial and look to kill the game when the result was still in the balance. He’s been around enough to know the value wins like this can do for a team’s confidence. He knows the ‘horses’ can be let loose again next week at Old Trafford and everyone will forget that they labored to a narrow win against Southampton.
With the game marking the start of a run of six of the next seven games being away from home, the resilience United displayed will be required more often over the next month or so. At the moment, United will score four when they should and when they can, but if and when they can’t, the club’s default task is to win by any scoreline, in any manner. We’re not quite yet at the level where we can be picky about proceedings on the pitch. Granted, some will argue that the resources available to the manager warrant that we should be able to but until the league title is returned to its home, United remain a work in progress to get to the top.
Victory has United already four points better off than at this stage last season. The St. Mary’s was another venue where the Reds dropped a frustrating pair points last season. The pattern therefore currently speaks of progress being made this season. Surely, we can’t be complaining.