I was away at a wedding this weekend where my hotel room was not blessed with the NBC Sports Network, so I had to DVR the United game to watch later. Nevertheless around 15 minutes before the match kicked off I got a text from a friend telling me the not so good news of who would be starting. I quickly fired up twitter to find this.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 15, 2015
Yuck. Blind, Carrick, Fellaini, Ashley Young, and Antonio Valencia all in the team. How, and more importantly, who was going to create goals for United. There was one notable difference in the starting XI from between many of United’s recent games and this one; the inclusion of Juan Mata.
Louis van Gaal confirmed before the match that Mata would be playing in Angel di Maria’s role. The free roamer who is supposed to be the chief creator, except di Maria hasn’t exactly been creating anything lately. Meanwhile Mata had been rotting on the bench as the team struggled to score goals, something he had been doing quite regularly before being benched.
Though Mata did not do much in the build up to any of the goals, it wasn’t a coincidence that he returned and all of a sudden the team looked far more dangerous then they have in weeks. The team played with pace, attacked, and actually looked creative for the first time since possibly the QPR match back in September. This was one of the few times the team looked dangerous since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
The match had other bright spots as Michael Carrick made his first start since returning from injury, and scored a goal nonetheless. Rafael Da Silva also made his return to the first team following an injury. Combine that with his fantastic goal and overall performance in last weeks U-21 match and it looks he may be ready to break back into the first team so we don’t have to watch Valencia every week at right back.
All in the team finally looked dangerous and things may finally be starting to look up for United. But of course since this team has had absolutely zero consistency this season this is the perfect time to not put together back to back good perfomances and drop all three points at Anfield this weekend. God forbid we could ever get comfortable.