The introduction of 19 James Wilson in the 57th minute against Queens Park Rangers proved to be a game-changing moment.
Not only did the substitution see the now notorious 3-5-2 formation switch to a flat back four but it also saw the injection of pace and purpose into the United attack. Within two minutes of the change, fellow substitute Marouane Fellaini had opened the scoring.
The Biddulph-born striker possesses that change of pace which is so dangerous in top-level football. His movement and speed presented problems to the QPR defence who lost him on several occasions, allowing him to run in behind them. Even without the ball, Wilson’s work-rate and determination was impressive and he harried QPR’s back line, giving them little time or space on the ball.
On the pitch for the final 37 minutes of the match, he was a handful which wasn’t dealt with. It was the most Wilson-like performance from the starlet in whom Louis van Gaal appears to have such faith. Wilson had a bit more freedom to move around the pitch and used that to good effect.
Wilson linked up well with on loan striker Radamel Falcao. The Colombian has recently come under pressure to prove why United should splash out £43 million to secure his signature and perhaps his job would be easier if Wilson became his strike partner.
The pair had only played 23 minutes together before the game against QPR but already a developing understanding could be seen. Twice Wilson almost found Falcao with dangerous crosses into the box that on other days would have resulted in goals. Hopefully the pair will be given more time to explore this newly blossoming partnership.
The teenager rounded off his influential performance with a stoppage time goal. His initial shot was saved by Rob Green, fortunately the ball came back to him and he finished with his weaker foot to break his duck in front of goal for this season.