After two back-to-back deflating losses, Manchester United were feeling the pressure and there were calls for Erik ten Hag to shake up things in order to get a response from the squad.
And the Dutchman did just that, from changing personnel to his style of play. And that paid dividends as United finally got on the board, beating arch-rivals Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag deserves plaudits for the team that he picked and his game-plan. He could very well have dropped all 11 players after the Brentford humbling. He chose to drop Cristiano Ronaldo and skipper Harry Maguire, choosing to play Anthony Elanga instead.
Rashford on the up
But the former Ajax boss felt Rashford with his pace and McTominay with his height would suit the game and they definitely did not let their manager down.
What was most impressive about the Mancunian’s performance was not the well-taken goal. Yes, the England international’s confidence certainly needed that but the way he refused to let his head drop despite not getting the rub of the green in the first half was impressive.
Assistant manager Steve McClaren had spoken in the past about Rashford’s tendency to lose focus once things did not work out for him out on the pitch. The 24-year-old certainly did not exhibit any of those traits as he stuck to his guns and pressed relentlessly.
McTominay the work-horse
McTominay, in the centre of the park, was immense as he kept breaking up play and quite a few times found the right pass to go along with it. The arrival of Casemiro might reduce his game-time in the future but on Monday, the Scot was certainly on top of his game.
His tough tackling at the start of the game certainly got the crowd going and his beautifully weighted pass almost worked out for Elanga who ended up hitting the post.
Another player who has been criticised for not only his lack of goals and assists but also his on-pitch attitude is Bruno Fernandes. But the captain on the night produced an indefatigable display, running and harrying all match long.
He was unlucky not to have come out of the game with at least an assist to his name as Elanga missed a glorious chance in the opening minutes of the game to hand the hosts the lead.
Ten Hag likes his teams to play out from the back but after David de Gea‘s Brentford gaffes, those plans were chucked out of the window considering Liverpool’s tendency to press high up and the Spaniard certainly redeemed himself with a few great saves.
United are still active in the transfer window and a glut of deals are expected in the coming days and it seemed like many players were almost playing to remain in the team going forward.
It ended up being a great night for United as the team finally showed some spirit and character. The Ten Hag revolution is finally officially underway!