So, the unbeaten run has come to quite an abrupt and drab halt, and yet there isn’t the normal feeling of disappointment (aside from the fact it was Hull City who ended the run, all respect given, of course) as a cup final beckons and Jose Mourinho’s second trip to Wembley inside his first 12 months in charge. Anyway, here is what we learned at the KCOM Stadium this evening.
Rashford growing, Lingard going, Martial needed
Question marks have been hanging over the heads of the three names mentioned this season (and for Jesse Lingard last also), lethargy has been the buzzword. But recently Marcus Rashford, in particular, has begun fighting back against these accusations and turning in some very impressive showings. Tonight is another to add to the list. He isn’t a wide man by any stretch of the imagination, and not everything worked for him, but his pace is frightening and the desire he holds to get into positions of use with or without the ball is brilliant to see. Even when things weren’t working he was harrying and hassling the defenders rather than petulantly throwing in the towel. Jesse Lingard gives his all – and a local lad in the starting lineup is brilliant to see – but he quite frankly isn’t up to the standard United need. This is where Anthony Martial really needs bringing to the fore and given the game time his form (when playing) richly deserves. It may well save another talent getting away.
Paul Pogba more than deserved his goal tonight, yet again he was the focal point in the middle with his range of talents. Enabled by the inclusion of Herrera and Carrick alongside him, that trio really does make the Frenchman an all round better player than when they’re not in attendance. But yet again he shone against a smaller side but looked a shadow of this form against Liverpool where he really was needed. With all due respect to Hull if you cannot shine against a side locked in a relegation dogfight then there is definitely something wrong with you, especially when you cost what he did. Still, credit where it’s due and performances like this need to be nurtured and built upon in the hope they continue into the bigger games. He is young, he will learn.
Let the scousers give you as much stick as possible people, United are in a cup final and they aren’t. Yeah, Hull won and ended the impressive run in all competitions, but finals breed confidence and confidence are exactly what Mourinho needs in the side heading into the business end of league proceedings. Another inconsistent refereeing performance keeps the tally of penalties for the season on one and yet everyone will say they favour United and give them everything. Rojo proved again he is a liability, Jones too with their second goal, but we should allow them this as it hasn’t really cost them anything other than being unbeaten and they were fairly impressive beforehand. As the old saying goes, all is well that ends well, and tonight we should embrace that. Now for the road to another cup final and Wigan. See you Sunday.