Republik of Mancunia writer Scott Patterson runs the rule over how Manchester United have been grinding out win after win despite flattering to deceive...
This week in five words
We are going to Wembley.
What went well
Beating West Ham to put United in the FA Cup semi-final, for the first time in seven years, meant this week was better than most.
Even the most optimistic United fan wasn’t predicting a win at the Boleyn Ground, but as Slaven Bilic conceded, the best team won. It’s been 12 years since they last won it, and with the teams still remaining, this is United’s best chance to put an end to that run.
Also, it’s not often that the decision makers at United get things right, but offering to pay for coaches from Old Trafford to Wembley and back again was pretty good going.
After the FA chose to schedule the semi-final on Saturday evening, having already been told by National Rail that maintenance would be taking place, it became apparent that TV revenues mattered far more than fans, with potentially 60,000 supporters from the North West being stranded in London. So, fair play to United.
It’s the points that matter, but that doesn’t excuse the dismal performance United put in against Aston Villa on Saturday. There have been discussions over whether this Villa side is the worst in Premier League history, yet United only managed a 1-0 win at home. They dominated possession, but didn’t create an awful lot, in what has been a description to sum up United’s season.
Liverpool’s last-minute winner in the Europa League against Dortmund didn’t go down particularly well either.
Quote of the week
“Oh yeah? You think so. Okay. You have all the evidence of that? You have spoken with Mr Perez and Mr Woodward about that matter?” Considering United released a statement at the time confirming that a deal had been agreed for David de Gea to join Real Madrid, it was strange to hear Louis van Gaal claim the goalkeeper was never leaving.
The need-to-know facts
- Since debuting for Manchester United, Marcus Rashford has scored seven times in 12 games. No other United player has more than three goals in that time.
- Antonio Valencia provided his first Premier League assist since January 2015 (v QPR).
- Aston Villa have won none of their last 13 Barclays Premier League meetings with Manchester United (W0 D3 L10).
- Going further back, the Red Devils have lost just one of their last 41 Premier League matches against the Villans (W30 D10 L1).
- The Red Devils have kept 11 clean sheets in their last 16 Premier League home matches.
Video/GIF of the week
United fans in singing the newish Anthony Martial chant at the Boleyn Ground:
Winner of the week
As a seven-year-old, first playing for United’s youth teams, Marcus Rashford couldn’t have dreamt of the two months he has just enjoyed.
His fantastic goal against West Ham, which turned out to be crucial in getting United to Wembley, showed that he wasn’t just a youngster with a bit of luck, but rather an immensely talented prospect.
As popular as he is with United fans, he won’t be well liked among Aston Villa fans, as it was his goal on Saturday which confirmed Villa’s fate in the Championship.
That was Rashford’s seventh goal in 12 appearances, again proving that he’s fully deserving of his place in United’s starting line-up.
Loser of the week
Bastian Schweinsteiger won’t be playing for United again this season, and probaly won’t feature for Germany at the European Championships, according to Louis van Gaal.
Having only cost £6.5 million, he was certainly worth signing, but he has had a disappointing season, which was only compounded by Van Gaal’s confirmation of the severity of the injury.