Make that three wins in a row for Manchester United. The Red Devils, who were already comfortably through to the knockout stages of the Europa League, put their future opponents on notice after a commanding 4-0 win against AZ Alkmaar at the Theatre of Dreams Thursday evening. A goal from... Ashley Young kicked off the marathon of scoring and between the 53rd and 64th minute, United were in complete control of the game with the help of Juan Mata and teenage star Mason Greenwood.
Maybe, just maybe, fans are witnessing the beginnings of a new and improved Manchester United. Here are three things we learned from their win against AZ Alkmaar.
Mason Greenwood is the MVP of the group stage
Academy lad Greenwood was nothing short of terrific during group play. The teenager scored twice on Thursday, one of his strikes coming from a costly mistake from the visitors. The Englishman’s skills are worthy of recognition, especially since they’re somewhat reminiscent of former Red Devil Robin van Persie’s form.
His goals against AZ Alkmaar mean that Greenwood has scored in all three home contests in the tournament and is the youngest United player to score two in a European match for United.
⚽️Youngest @ManUtd players to score 2+ goals in a European game ⚽️— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) December 12, 2019
Mason Greenwood, 18 years & 72 days
Marcus Rashford, 18 years & 117 days
Wayne Rooney, 18 years & 340 days
George Best, 19 years & 137 days
Ryan Giggs, 20 years & 289 days pic.twitter.com/eipEfQ0LEr
While his permanent place in the first-team may still be somewhat of an enigma, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has nothing to lose giving Greenwood more minutes in the Premier League. Frankly, the rising star can only get better from here.
Clean sheets only seem to come in the Europa League
On his 50th appearance for the club, back-up goalkeeper Sergio Romero secured his 31st clean sheet and his fifth out of six games in the Europa League. These are remarkable numbers for the Argentinian, but begs the question why starting keeper David de Gea hasn’t experienced the same luck. The Spaniard was the Premier League’s Golden Glove winner in the 2017/2018 campaign. These days, he’s lucky to finish the first half without conceding a goal.
Sure, de Gea cannot save every strike that is fired at him. However, with how well United’s defense perform when Romero is in goal, that same energy and momentum must be met when de Gea is the last line of defense in the domestic league.
Solskjaer’s words hold weight
Whatever Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said to his men at the interval seemed to work. United had another brilliant performance and for the first time all season, a player older than 26 scored a goal in a red shirt. Seems like the Norwegian learned a thing or two about half-time team talks from his days of playing for Sir Alex Ferguson.
United fans, and rightfully so, were undecided on whether the former United forward was the right man to lead this club to dominance once again. Significant back-to-back wins against Big Six sides and an impressive run in the Europa League marks the return of Caretaker Solskjaer form.