Manchester United fans have been used to seeing their team start slowly in recent games and the trend looked to have continued when Phil Jones made a nervy backpass during the opening exchanges. However, goals from Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick gave United complete control over the match after just 20 minutes played.
Slipped in thanks to a wonderful through ball from Carrick, Fellaini finished strongly past Hugo Lloris to open the scoring with his weaker left foot. The Belgian returned the favour by playing a big part in Carrick’s goal ten minutes later. Early goals have been something of a rarity since the start of the year for United so the duo’s strikes were brilliant to see.
Unbelievable first half
United’s first half performance contained some of the best football that the team have played all season. Bright and full of energy, United were excellent to a man and completely deserved their 3-0 lead at the break.
Fellaini, Juan Mata and Rooney in particular put in an excellent 45 minutes. Detractors will say Spurs helped United with a sloppy display but it was a simply brilliant half of football from Louis van Gaal’s side and they will draw heaps of confidence from it.
Gary Neville was glowing in his praise of Fellaini during United’s blistering start to the match and went as far as to say it was the Belgian’s finest 26 minutes in a red shirt. He was absolutely spot on as the 27-year-old blew Spurs away in the first half.
It seems as if Fellaini is like marmite to fans. Some criticise his direct style while others praise his physical presence in midfield. He definitely has to produce more consistently at Old Trafford but his performance on Sunday went a long way in winning an important three points for United.
Against Arsenal in United’s previous game on Monday night, United chose to lump the ball up to Fellaini as they were chasing a goal in the dying moments of the match. It was a desperate tactic and one that stunk of a team simply hoping for the best.
That was the crucial difference for United on Sunday. Intent. Every pass, every movement and every decision had a clear motive behind it. As well as being devastatingly effective, United’s play was easy on the eye. Van Gaal will analyse the match and wonder why United played so well. Was it Juan Mata? The exclusion of Angel di Maria, perhaps? Regardless, fans will be expecting more of the same in the future.
Excellent composure, slick one touch passing and expansive cross field balls. And a goal to top it off! What a performance from Carrick. United’s play is completely different with and without the 33-year-old, who was arguably the Man of the Match against Spurs.
A vital cog in van Gaal’s machine, Carrick has timed his return from injury perfectly as United begin their tough run of fixtures.
Lots of other special mentions
Juan Mata was just magnificent. Gliding over the grass with his usual grace and guile, Spurs couldn’t get near him nor stop him. Compatriot Ander Herrera was equally as impressive. All over the pitch, there were great performances.