Manchester United opened their 2021/22 Premier League campaign with a stunning display to thrash bitter rivals Leeds United 5-1. United started the game brightly and went ahead through Bruno Fernandes’ strike that went through Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier’s legs after being picked out by a first-time pass by Paul Pogba, his first of four assists. Leeds’s Luke Ayling fired in the equaliser minutes into the second half. However, this served to fire up United as we hit three goals within 10 minutes to take the game away from the opposition. Fred rounded off the day by scoring our fifth goal of the game as the United faithful were delighted in the performance we had seen.
Here we looked at five things we learned after a great day at Old Trafford.
1. Bruno hits the ground running
Bruno Fernandes carried on from where he had left off last season by putting in another outstanding performance as he bagged his first hat trick for the club. It was no surprise to any of the United fans that our Portuguese Magnifico was on the scoresheet against Leeds. No other Premier League player has contributed more goals or assists than Fernandes since his arrival at the club.
Bruno hasn’t experienced playing with a full Old Trafford crowd that frequently but he relishes his opportunity as he delighted us fans and shows why he is an integral part of the team. He was determined in his running on and off the ball but had the clinical finishing to match.
2. Paul Pobga shows his influence
Speculation still remains over Paul Pogba’s future at the club as he enters the final year of his contract. But that was all put to one side as he produced one of his best performances with four assists. He has almost bettered his tally from last season. Pogba was positioned on the left of the front three and certainly showed his influence especially with his range and execution of passing. His pass that set up Mason Greenwood’s goal was just perfect.
The only thing Pogba should have probably done was score in the first half when he was put through only for his shot to go just wide of the post. If this is to be his last season with us, then it looks like he wants to go out in style.
3. Greenwood looks like a number 9
With Edinson Cavani unavailable due to his extended break, Mason Greenwood was presented with an earlier opportunity to lay down a marker to become the future number 9 and a regular first-teamer. His goal in the second half to put United back into the lead was definitely a delight to watch. With Jadon Sancho’s arrival, Greenwood’s minutes on the pitch are likely to come through the middle. We all know that he has a great finishing technique but he was also impressive with his dribbling and link-up play as he dropped back to pick up the ball and bring his teammates into play.
Cavani may not make the trip away to Southampton next week and so Greenwood has done more than enough to keep his place in the side ahead of Anthony Martial.
4. Old Trafford was rocking
It had been since March 2020 that Old Trafford saw a full capacity crowd where we had beaten Manchester City 2-0. The fans had waited a long time to be back inside the stadium and we certainly made our voices heard. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær said of the fans’ return after the Leeds game that “it was electric, absolutely magic. It does mean a lot for the players. This atmosphere gives you the extra edge and energy“.
5. Raphael Varane is finally a Red
Manchester United had announced back on 27th July that they had agreed on a deal in principle to sign Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane. As the days passed and we headed into the first game of the season, there had still been no news on him officially signing. Even Ole had said in his pre-match press conference for the Leeds game that the final pieces of paperwork were holding things up.
To our surprise and the delight of the Old Trafford faithful Varane was officially unveiled just before the Leeds game to rapturous applause as he walked onto the pitch. We cannot wait to see him play in a United shirt and Varane got a taste of the Old Trafford atmosphere.