The most impressive thing about this result was the confidence. The scoreline, embellished by 3 goals in the last 10 minutes, is impressive but that was only a product of the control and poise with which United played. The first half was all United possession, probing to break down Swansea’s disciplined 3-6-1. The breakthrough came from a corner kick, yet another set-piece goal – something we didn’t see much of last season.
As my post earlier in the week said, there’s no need to draw any long-term conclusions from the West Ham result – the same applies here. 2 games, 2 convincing wins, 6 points. What we are seeing is a work in progress, a construction on the right path. While there remain certain tactical questions – the absence of width in possession being an obvious one – the team is crafting an identity for itself. As @nanu759 says, a partonopei (“pattern of play”) is the first step to establishing sustained dominance. As almost certainly the tallest team in the league, the aerial threat is superbly complemented by the pacey brio and strength of a more mature Rashford, the finishing of a hungry Lukaku, and the clever scheming and direct running of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Speaking of the Armenian, he was a class above today without ever looking like he was trying hard. His ability to turn off both feet was priceless while with his direct running late in the game, as it opened up, recalled the very best of the Bundesliga’s Player of the Season for 15/16.
The team’s spirit and togetherness is a welcome sight. As reports indicate, it is the best in years – Martial’s goal was eagerly celebrated by Marcus Rashford, with whom he’s obviously in direct competition with. Lukaku scored, and Martial celebrated it with a double fist pump – once again, a player happy for another whose presence in the team is a threat to theirs.
A final shout for Phil Jones. 2 games in and no hobbling must be a beautiful thing to see. His reading of the game was measured, his tackling strong. His partnership with Eric Bailly seems to be blossoming.
3 points, onto the next one.