Martial’s finish, in particular, was sublime as he curled the ball into the net following a slick team move. Van Gaal was full of praise for his side after the clash.
“I am a very happy coach because I have seen fantastic goals, team goals, where we are building up from the back and finishing like that, and also controlling the game in the second half,” van Gaal said.
“Michael Carrick said to me after the match that it is so different when you score the early goal.
“We had a lot of chances to score in the first half also in previous matches but you have to finish, and now we are finishing and still creating more.
“I think we have played in the first half attacking-wise very good. In the second half we were more controlling and we didn’t give any chances away against a team like Stoke. That is remarkable because they always make it difficult.”
United were much, much better against Stoke than they have been in recent months.
While it was excellent to see, it is frustrating at the same time as we all know that United are capable of performing to a high level if they are released from the shackles that van Gaal has placed on them at times this term. Perhaps van Gaal has now learned the error of his ways and United will continue to express themselves more freely in the latter stages of the campaign.