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What We Learned: Hull City 0-1 Manchester United – Premier League 2016/17

Wow, that was far tenser than it needed to be. It was the United of old in a number of ways, but it was the United of old we remember fondly. Where I predicted a comfortable win, it was far from that but here is what we learned on Humberside.

It wasn’t pretty, but it’ll do

The phrase has been used time and again over the last three years with a grimace accompanying it. Namely, because the squeaky 1-0 wins were goals in the first five minutes and defended out, or there was 90% possession but three shots all game. This evening was different and smacked heavily of the narrow victories Sir Alex Ferguson used to pride himself upon – win, or lose trying. It never felt like United didn’t deserve the three points and it was genuinely refreshing to have a game where your nerves were ripped to shreds as shot after shot failed to breach the Hull City net. It wasn’t enjoyable, yet I’m not complaining.

Rejuvenation aplenty

Antonio Valencia has come into this season a new man, his aggression is there to be seen and feared. His pace is forgotten about it think and that is shining through this far. His end product hasn’t always been there, but at least now he is trying to produce something. Wayne Rooney hasn’t been up to much of late, but to his eternal credit this evening he was much better and his assist was genuinely superb. Even Marouane Fellaini was an acceptable footballer in flashes (brief flashes).

What does Daley Blind have to do for some recognition?

The Dutchman is permanently overlooked when praise is given out and it’s genuinely baffling. In the week a series of three videos with the purpose of reminding everyone what he brings to the side, and I haven’t stopped watching them since. He is a stone cold class act, a master of many arts including defending. It was frowned upon when Louis van Gaal played him at Centre Half last season, but since then all he has done is excelled and is now keeping Smalling out of the starting XI. Imagine that passing range in Centre Midfield. And he’s gorgeous to boot.

Conclusion 

No, it wasn’t perfect. Nothing has been so far this season, and it’s not going to as it’s another season of transition. But the massive difference is the foundations are there to be seen, and three wins out of three can’t be grumbled at ever. None of the games have been cut and dry before kick off either, so to come out of the different challenges unscathed is absolutely encouraging. Marcus Rashford reminded everyone just what he can do with his predatory instinct inside the six-yard box, if it weren’t for Ibrahimovic he would be starting I’m in absolutely no doubt. Paul Pogba would benefit from having Ander Herrera next to him I’m sure, and Juan Mata (whom I omitted from the rejuvenation section by accident) has been a completely different animal so from for Jose Mourinho. The others I haven’t mentioned made it through alright, although I am becoming concerned with Anthony Martial’s start to the season. There was no knee slide from Mourinho, but there was another three points. According to reports he has told his players they can win the league this season and I’ve been saying exactly the same.

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