It may have only been last week, however, I would say I witnessed my greatest match so far.
Manchester United we’re hosting Newcastle United. To me this was an important game for United and for Jose, as it was only the day before that it was leaked that Mourinho was going to be axed regardless of the result against Newcastle, so a win was very much needed.
As the players walked out onto the pitch, the atmosphere rose, the noise levels increased, with the fans chanting United United. The game kicked off and straight away I could see Newcastle were ready for this game, the Newcastle players were more energetic and first to every ball, the Manchester United players were sloppy in there passing, giving the ball away and lacked ambition and energy. And then in the 7th minute Kennedy with the ball at his feet, ran at Ashley Young, Young looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights and let Kennedy put the ball on his favoured left foot, where he shoots, placed the ball in the bottom corner of the net, Newcastle were 1-0 up after 7 mins.
The atmosphere began to dampen. Newcastle were winning every ball, passing well, and creating space. Then in the 10th minute, Muto received the ball in the box and was allowed to take four touches then turning and shooting.
For the second time in the game, De Gea was picking the ball out of his net in just 10 short minutes.
Newcastle were 2-0 up, and playing Manchester United off the park, in their own backyard. My heart sank, along with the atmosphere of the United fans. The Newcastle fans were in full voice.
In the 19th minute, Jose hauled off Bailly and replaced him with Juan Mata. Mourinho went with a back three in order to attack more, moving McTominay into central defence – a tactic that baffled me and many more United fans.
Newcastle were dominating, Rashford and Lukaku looked frustrated, Pogba looked angry at the lack of movement, and McTominay looked scared and out of sorts, the half-time whistle couldn’t come quick enough. At halftime, I was in shock at how bad United played, and I couldn’t see a way back?.
The players came out for the second half, McTominay had been substituted and replaced with Fellaini. Straight away I could see the difference, it was like I was watching a different team!
United were fired up, getting first to every ball – Martial was electric, running at players and taking them on. Mata was creating space, and Pogba took a deeper lying role where he was dictating play.
Rashford was replaced by Sanchez, Jose had used all his subs so this was a last throw of the dice. With 20 left to play, United won a free kick just outside the box. Mata and Sanchez both stood over it, the lad sat next to me said ‘Mata bottom corner’ – Mata with his left foot, curls the ball over the wall into the bottom right-hand corner, the United fans erupted, belief began to creep back into my head, and all I could hear was UNITED UNITED ringing around the stadium.
Newcastle then began to sit back, United smelt blood and pressed. I could sense there was another goal coming, the lad I was sat next to, kept saying ‘we are going to win this 4-2 because Newcastle will tire’.
Martial receives the ball, runs at the defenders, passes the ball to Pogba, who plays a fancy lay off for Martial, he shoots, and the ball is in the back of the Newcastle net in full view of the Stretford end, and once again the fans erupt with joy, the atmosphere is electric, the Newcastle fans have gone quiet.
Jose Mourinho’s name is being sung by the United fans. I’m stunned I can’t believe it’s 2-2 and how different United have played in the second half. United players were more energetic and wanted the game more. The passing was good and they were creating space, the addition of Mata was a game changer.
The clock was ticking, I was on the edge of my seat thinking ‘could we really win this game?’ but on the other hand, I was content with the draw.
The 90th minute, Young crossed the ball, Martial jumped for the ball, but just behind him was Sanchez who rose up and headed the ball into the back of the net. I jumped out of my seat with every other United fan, I was in disbelief, and overwhelmed with joy.
Jose Mourinho’s name once again rung out. The final whistle was blown, and instead of the players being booed like they were at half time, the players were applauded as they walked off. I had just witnessed an amazing game, it was like watching United when Fergie was in the dugout, the days when United fought back. I thought I’d never witness games like that again at Old Trafford, as I walked out of the ground with a smile on my face, I thought to myself I have indeed just witnessed the United of old, UNITED UNITED.