The doom and gloom surrounding Manchester United seem to have dissipated for the time being after a memorable 2-1 victory over arch-rivals Liverpool on Monday.
The win was in sharp contrast to United’s performances in the opening two weeks against Brighton and Brentford. After being outfought and outrun, there were murmurs of a broken team still nursing a hangover from last season.
But the Red Devils turned the tables at Old Trafford on Monday as they completely dominated their rivals from Merseyside with statistics backing up their dominant display.
There was passion on display reminiscent of the glory years as players challenged for second balls like their lives depended on it while flying into 50-50 tackles with each winning tackle or block greeted by a high-five across the pitch.
There were some noteworthy individual displays on offer as well with the entire back four worthy of praise while the midfield pairing of the oft-derided Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen excelling in their roles.
Sancho back to his best?
It was a transfer two years in the making as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally landed his man from Borussia Dortmund. Fans were excited to welcome the young Englishman who had been making waves in the Bundesliga.
💬 “I’m so glad we got the three points.” 🙌
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 23, 2022
But Sancho came into a dysfunctional team and it affected his play as well, with the 22-year-old registering only five goals and three assists in 38 appearances across all competitions last season.
But it was expected that under Erik ten Hag, someone who has a proven track record of turning youngsters with potential into stars, the former City player would explode.
And pre-season seemed to indicate a return to form for Sancho as he scored the joint-most goals for United. But the start of the Premier League season again proved to be difficult as he found himself usually marked by more than two players on occasions.
Sancho can excel in ETH system
Sancho needs to figure out a way to deal with these things and he certainly showed that against Jurgen Klopp’s team. He cut in-field at every given opportunity and linked up well with Diogo Dalot as well as the midfielders.
And when his chance came to score, he kept his composure as he sent a couple of Liverpool defenders the wrong way before slotting home.
“Once I chopped inside, I knew I just had to keep my cool” said the 22-year-old. “I’ve seen the gap and I’ve trusted myself, and I’ve finished it. You just have to compose yourself and be calm,” he told MUTV at the end of the game.
The entire team showed tremendous desire and Sancho was quick to point out how the defeats motivated the team to produce such a memorable display. “Coming from last week’s performance [4-0 loss at Brentford] we knew that today we had to show desire and belief. I’m so glad we got the three points today.”
It is imperative now that the Red Devils do not let this momentum slip as the team will be expected to put in such performances week in and week out from now on. It finally seems like Ten Hag’s intense system of pressing and running seems to be bearing fruit.
“In pre-season we knew it was going to be intense. As players, we’re happy to play this style. We’re very young, we’re energetic so we can produce this type of performance. It’s about keeping this momentum now,” he signed off.