Manchester United’s exciting attack spearheaded by the youth

by Sam Peoples

2016 hasn’t been the best of years as far as Manchester United’s goalscoring record goes but our 2-1 victory over Everton in the FA Cup showed fans just how bright the future can be.

Ever since the win over West Ham in the FA Cup quarter-final replay, Louis van Gaal has brought back the 4-3-3 which he’s used so often during his career and with it has come a new lease of life for United in attack.

Bar the Aston Villa game which had as much tempo as a sleeping tortoise, we’ve been exciting to watch thanks to the work by Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford.

Take their performances against Everton. Here’s a video of their combined highlights:

It’s not just the fact we’re scoring goals, it’s everything around our movement in attack. Players aren’t stationary, waiting for the ball to come to them like a tempestuous teenager refusing to get out of bed. They craft spaces themselves, they weave between defenders and run-in behind them which causes no end of problems. Everton simply couldn’t control Rashford or Martial and ultimately it paid off.

Every player did his job. Martial was the main man at Wembley but neither Rashford nor Lingard gave their defenders a moments rest and so much movement made it almost impossible to stop chances being created, especially when you’ve got players like Wayne Rooney picking people out with balls over the top.

Beyond the football as well, great friendships are developing. Local lads Lingard and Rashford are really enjoying themselves at the moment and and the importance of their friendship can’t be underestimated in terms of building on the pitch partnerships.

As it continues to develop, they will instinctively know where the other is without having to see them. The best example of that was Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, one of United’s greatest ever centre-forward partnerships, and their goal away to Barcelona in 1998. Having known each other from such a young age, Rashford and Lingard have already started to develop that awareness together.

Of course, it’s far from perfect. Lingard certainly needs to work on improving his finishing because far too often this season he’s spurned great opportunities but I’m confident he’ll do better in his second full senior season. As well as that, Martial and Rashford will only continue to get better as well as they develop.

These are exciting times for United fans as far as future prospects go. We’ve got a team littered with youngsters who are taking the team by storm this year and I’m not sure there has been a more exciting individual at the club than Martial since Cristiano Ronaldo left, not to mention how much Rashford is tearing it up.

This is not to say I think these three players are going to take us forward and back into the glory days but it’s just refreshing to see United play with some real pace in attack, running at defenders with confidence and not simply relying on one player, Martial, to make something happen. We’re becoming more of a team.

We’ve been spoilt over the last two decades with thrilling attacking football and that had disappeared over the last few years, instead being replaced by a mundane and slow style of play which went against what we all loved to see. However, the likes of Lingard, Rashford and Martial have shown us those times are hopefully on their way back.