If you can’t win beautifully, win ugly. That’s what all the great coaches will tell you, and on Saturday, United bravely battled their way to their first away victory since the 22nd November.
The classic United teams have always had a number of qualities stored somewhere within their locker; the ability to dig deep in the face of adversity being top of the checklist. Today, van Gaal’s men resoundingly ticked that box.
It wasn’t the classy Di Maria, the solid Carrick or the superb display from the captain that won United the game today; it was a combination of all of the above. For the first time under van Gaal, it really was ‘all about the team’, and the elation that the player’s showed after Rooney’s goal was representative of the hard-work they had put in for the manager.
There’s work to be done no doubt. The first 30 minutes must have had the away fans wondering whether their team had forgotten that they were the team playing in blue. But whilst United gradually started to show that they could in fact pass the ball, there was some deft tactical changes that allowed United to progress, something that rarely happened under the previous manager. It is disheartening that van Gaal hasn’t been able to get the team to play well for a full 90 minutes, but within the same breath, the football being played is on a whole new level. A whole new level that leaves the team 4th with an injury list with more names on than the amount of Arsenal fans at the final whistle.
Whether or not it takes 3 years to rebuild United remains to be seen, but if Saturday is anything to go by, the ballsy, never-say-die Manchester United has made a resurgent return.