Written by Anirudh Shenoy
“Here’s Pogba, support from Daniel James… whose dream comes true! Lap it up boy, lap it up, life does not get a whole lot better than that, on debut in front of the Stretford End, Daniel James is a red!”
Millions of Red Devils across the globe went up in unison. Cheering, roaring and jumping about in a frenzy. United had just slain their most formidable foe in the Premier League era and had decorated the opening day in some style. Now, a couple of days after a bit of introspection, there isn’t the same buzz as you would expect. Why? Because we know. What we’ve been treated to, is a rude surprise at every turn since Sir Alex decided to call it a day.
Patrice Evra’s 30 seconds of joy against Bayern. United ripping up the big boys under van Gaal. From 2-0 down to 3-2 up at the Etihad under Jose, to scaling Paris in March. We’ve been here before. The joy before the eventual suffering that has numbed us.
Because after all those moments came the fall. The fall that we have become accustomed to. The fall that has season on season, killed that hope and belief around the club. Robben ripping United hearts out. City finishing ahead of United on goal difference to get into the Champions League. Losing 1-0 to West Brom to surrender the title. Finishing last season with 2 wins in the last 9.
United fans have not been able to hold their heads high after the apparent peak because we know all too well the abyss that follows. Not a single United fan anywhere on the planet will be surprised to see Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota rock up to put 3 past de Gea at Molineux on Monday night.
This time, however, there seems to be a different air around the place. A togetherness, a spirit that we haven’t seen for a while, since dare I say it, Sir Alex Ferguson’s days. The spirit that United showed in Paris with a second-team was phenomenal, but this seems like something else. This unity is in a way best embodied by looking at the whole first team being all over Daniel James after his first goal, especially given the backdrop of the tragic passing of his father a month prior to opening day.
Paul Pogba was the last player to leave the pitch on Sunday to a round of applause and loud cheer, a stark contrast to the final day defeat against Cardiff at the back of last season. Pogba sat in midfield, disciplined, despite losing the ball to a fancy trick or two, he did the job that was asked of him. The most eye-catching part of his performance wasn’t the assist for Rashford’s goal. We have seen that. It was the interception and the defensive work rate in the press in the lead up to the goal. He pressed hard for the entirety of the game, something we have all been crying out for.
Manchester United might still finish 6th, Paul Pogba could very well leave to Madrid next summer.
But there’s a different vibe around the club these days. Aaron wan Bissaka and Harry Maguire have both stepped in and looked like they’ve been here for as long Smalling and Jones. Ole might not be the most tactically sound or play the most mind games, but what he’s got is a team. A team that plays for him, a team that will go to end no matter what. It is no longer a group of individuals because there is a connect and spirit in this squad that we have not seen for some time and that is here to stay.
For now, hoping and dreaming is all we’ve got.
Glory. Glory. Man. United.
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