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Staff Takeaways: Manchester United 1-0 West Ham

Thoughts from our writers after Rashford grabs all 3 points at the death…

Manchester United v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Colin- There’s life again

The endless stream of negativity from the media and the fanbase can’t quite rob me of my whole football fandom, and the reason is because this team remains very capable of lifting itself and creating special moments. All of a sudden, this team feels as though it has life again, and they were just seconds away from following up a win with dropped points yet again.

The celebration sort of says it all about this team finding its form, and not just Rashford’s. The goal celebrations against Brentford and Aston Villa from the past week also showed a genuine release of frustration by a team that had its season turned on its head. New manager, new style, and the same old problems was going to mean a period of adjustment, but recent form suggests players are buying in. The passion of the players for winning never should have been in question, and it’s so, so great to see them celebrating like that.

Chris: Rangnick’s substitutions make a crucial impact once again

After a lackluster performance in the final third for the majority of the match, Ralf Rangnick was forced to make three attacking substitutions in hope of producing the winning goal. In the end, all three substitutes—Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, and Anthony Martial—combined to create the stoppage-time winner that sent United into fourth place in the Premier League.

It took until the second half for the Reds to register a shot on target, which came from Fred in the 50th minute. Despite retaining 57% of possession throughout the match, United lacked the creativity and final pass needed to produce a quality chance to find the back of the net.

Rangnick took it upon himself to change the course of the game, as he did on Wednesday, and create more scoring opportunities through substitutions.

Anthony Elanga, who looked sharp on the left wing once again after scoring the opener against Brentford, made way for Rashford, who also scored a confidence-boosting goal against the Bees, in the 62nd minute. After another 20 minutes without United truly testing West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, Rangnick switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-4 by bringing on Cavani for Fred and Martial for Mason Greenwood.

It was Martial’s pass to Cavani and the Uruguayan’s cross across the six-yard box to wide-open Rashford in the 93rd minute that gave United all three points at Old Trafford. Each of the England international’s goals this season have come as an impact substitute, per Statman Dave on Twitter.

United only registered three total shots on net, but Rangnick’s willingness to change tactics and players mid-game is a welcome sight after former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s frequent hesitation to do so.