I must admit Louis Van Gaal is a real survivor. Every time it feels like his time at Manchester United is over, an unexpected and an important win extends his stay at Old Trafford.
This time it was a 2-1 win in the FA Cup quarter final over West Ham, which will now take United to Wembley for the first time since 2011. Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals for United while John Tomkins’ late headed goal kept the game alive right till the end.
Tonight was all about United’s youngsters coming good and playing their natural football. For a change, players played in their customary positions and there was a rare positive performance from United’s prodigal villain Marouane Fellaini.
As Manchester United fans celebrate their first FA Cup semi final appearance since 2011, we take a look at key talking points and things we learned from an end-to-end game at Upton Park.
Marcus Rashford for the Euros?
This boy is a special talent, he can frighten the life out of defenders with his skills, he can run with the ball and he can certainly finish as well. His top-corner finish was a moment worth savoring for every United fan as they may not see a better goal this season.
Rashford’s impact on Manchester United while playing as a striker must have alarmed the England manager Roy Hodgson. Whether or not he picks the 18-year old forward for the Euros, but Rashford certainly is making a strong claim for it.
Mata to spend rest of the season on bench?
Manchester United attacks had more speed, more incisiveness and certainly more cutting edge tonight and it was not a co-incidence that it came in the absence of Juan Mata.
The Spaniard is not a winger and he fails to run through the defense like Lingard, Rashford and Martial did tonight. Solely based on result and performance, Mata will find it very hard to justify his selection in coming matches.
West Ham were late to get started
Not only late rather they were very late, in fact it wasn’t until the goal on 79th minute that West Ham actually started to dominate United. Their main man Dimitri Payet had a quiet night and it showed in their tame and very limited attacking chances.
Should Fosu-Mensah start week-in-week-out?
Like Rashford, he may be 18 but is showing immense maturity to play well beyond his age. He is physically very strong and can only get better from here. Manchester United need to take good care of this player as he can be the next superstar emerging from Old Trafford.
No Payet No Party
West Ham are dependent on Dimitri Payet so much that if he has a bad game, Hammers look like a team who are out of sorts. Payet was marshaled by Fosu-Mensah tonight and he could not influence the game, but it should not be an excuse for West Ham to not try harder to win the game against Manchester United.
Fellaini showed what he is capable of
Playing at the focal point of a 4-3-3, Marouane Fellaini looked like a different player than what we have seen in recent past. He was not sloppy, rather he was dominating every West Ham player in particular Andy Carroll.
His distribution was good and he even made a 25-yard run from midfield as well. Signs are there that he could be clicking back in to form but I wonder if it has come a bit too late for the Belgian.
Van Gaal to stay beyond this season?
One result does not change the fact that Louis Van Gaal is still under pressure. Next game against Aston Villa will say a lot about Van Gaal and if he has finally understood his squad or once again he will go on making crazy experiments like he did against Spurs and paid a heavy price.
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