The last three seasons must have been gleeful Schadenfreude for the ABUs (Anyone but United). No league titles, no imperious domination, no goal gluts and no last gasp injury time winners to break opposition hearts. When Jose Mourinho was appointed Manchester United’s manager, the ABUs must have hoped he would continue with his supposed bus parking habit rather than revive swashbuckling Fergie traditions. Their hopes lasted 3 games. Perhaps Jose had been studying old United videos trying to figure out ways to ingratiate himself with his new club’s supporters. Hmm, let’s see. What to do? There was the classic coming off the bench to score the winner trope. Yep. Why not add a dash of United youth? Definitely. That always goes down well with the Old Trafford faithful. So, youth player comes off bench to score the winner. But when? There was only one time. Fergie time.
Mike Phelan, the Hull manager, knows all about Fergie time. He worked as the great man’s assistant at his former club from 2008 until Sir Alex’s retirement. So the signs must have been ominous as the time neared 90 and the score remained 0-0. Ironically, it was Hull who had almost done a United on United with David Meyler firing narrowly over in the 89th minute. United were struggling to break down a stubborn Hull defence as the match entered injury time. Time for Marcus Rashford to step up.
There had been portentous proclamations from the doom-mongers that his United career was over now Jose Mourinho was in charge. After all, Jose didn’t promote youth, did he? He sold youth, and bought big names. Like selling Adnan Januzaj and buying Zlatan Ibrahimaovic. And he had relegated Rashford to the bench. A decision that had cost Rashford his place in the England team. No first team place meant he was demoted to the Under-21 side.
Sam Allardyce may wish to revisit that decision after Rashford’s sparkling cameo against Hull. Rashford is unusual for an England player; he’s not scared of the ball. He’s not afraid to express himself, to try clever moves, to take on defenders, to go for an ambitious pass or a cheeky shot. Sometimes they don’t come off; most of the time they do. Sometimes, it’s just about being in the right place at the right time – the true knack of a gifted striker. In the second minute of injury time, a mistake by the Hull defender allowed Rooney to come in from the byline and cross into the 6 yard box where Rashford had sneaked in between two defenders to tap in for the winner. He celebrated by running over to the delirious away fans and indulging in a massive group hug. That boy is going to provide tough competition for Zaltan for cult status at United.
The glory days aren’t back at United quite yet, but the ABUs might want to brace themselves. Jose Mourinho has just unleashed his inner Fergie on the Premier League.