So there we have it, at last. Manchester United have produced a performance of fluency and purpose, just as we all have been craving. It all seems so simple, doesn’t it?
Louis van Gaal’s side comfortably overcame Tottenham in 25 captivating first-half minutes during which time they scored three goals and rekindled, for once, the halcyon days of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
But let us not become carried away. It was an encouraging display from a side so bereft of creativity this season but must not be considered anything more until they are able to find that elusive consistency.
So desperate have many been to witness this Manchester United side provide a performance of note that this victory will inevitably be greeted with much fanfare in some quarters. But some caution ought to be encouraged.
One good game does not guarantee many will follow. There will now, indeed, be a greater level of expectation ahead of next weekend’s game at Anfield and a hypothetical failure there will be even more difficult to digest following the result against Spurs.
Van Gaal, upon his arrival at Manchester United, urged fans and journalists alike to reserve judgement on his team until three months had passed. In essence, he meant that one or two performances were not the measuring stick, rather his side’s progress over an extended period.
Plans coming to fruition?
So, what to make of the triumph over Tottenham, a rival for the top four. Van Gaal’s three month deadline has since been extended and, 10 months on, was this performance finally evidence of his plans coming to fruition?
Given the laboured and dull football they have produced up until now, it may have only been an anomaly. Look at Burnley’s win over Manchester City, or Paris Saint-Germain beating Chelsea. Oddities happen, and perhaps a fluid and convincing Manchester United win is one of them.
But they are now just two points behind City and five clear of Liverpool, who do have a game in hand. United may not have been winning well, but they have been winning and that’s now six of their last eight.
Under Van Gaal there has been effective football. It may not have been easy on the eye - far from it, in fact - but they have constantly been getting points on the board. Arsenal and City each have only one more win than United, while the Red Devils have just three fewer successes than leaders Chelsea.
You can’t always have it all, and maybe Manchester United supporters may have to accept that their side with Van Gaal at the helm will not be aesthetically comparable to those produced by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Van Gaal sad prior to the encounter with Spurs that a top four finish would be like a trophy for Manchester United. And, should they achieve this, it will be the winning that matters rather than the manner in which they did it.
Manchester United supporters will no doubt enjoy their moment in the sun, so rare have they been in the past two seasons. And enjoy it they should as a return of the pragmatic and mechanical Van Gaal era performances will be just around the corner.
Manchester United fans: do you think your side will be able to produce more performances like this? Let us know below!
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