Manchester United fans stormed the street of Old Trafford jubilating Eric Ten Hag and Marcus Rashford deverstating news this morning

Manchester United fans stormed the street of Old Trafford jubilating Eric Ten Hag and Marcus Rashford deverstating news this morning

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Man Utd are a better team without Marcus Rashford – and finally Erik ten Hag can see it! Winners and losers as Red Devils come out fighting without misfiring forward to leave sorry Chelsea in the dust

Tom Maston and

Richard Martin




Rashford Ten Hag Chelsea GFXGetty/GOAL

Winners & Losers

Manchester United

Marcus Rashford


Erik ten Hag

Premier League


Manchester United vs Chelsea

The England star was benched at Old Trafford on Wednesday, and in his absence, the Red Devils put in an energetic display


After events of the past week, Erik ten Hag desperately needed a performance from his Manchester United team against Chelsea. Anything less than an improved display from Saturday’s pathetic showing at Newcastle, and the knives would have started to sharpen for the Dutch coach.


With that in mind, and reports of unhappiness within the United squad beginning to swirl, Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford was a clear sign that the bulk of Ten Hag’s players remain behind the boss as United dominated for almost the entire game, forcing their visitors into sloppy error after sloppy error as a result.


Scott McTominay was the hero on the night as the Scotland international scored goals either side of Cole Palmer’s equaliser, but he was far from the only hero wearing red. Ten Hag’s side pressed high from the first minute and created numerous good chances, with Chelsea goalkeeper Robert Sanchez one of the few players heading back to west London with any credit.


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That such an energetic display came on the night when Marcus Rashford was finally dropped from the United line-up will not have gone unnoticed, and performances remain at this level, then the forward might find it difficult to force his way back into the reckoning.


Rashford wasn’t the only England attacker to have a disappointing evening, as Raheem Sterling was one of a number of Chelsea players who underperformed on the night, with Mauricio Pochettino seemingly powerless to figure out a way of forcing United to back down. As such, the Blues remain mired in mid-table as they continue to take one step forward followed by two back.


GOAL breaks down the winners & losers from Old Trafford…


Scott McTominay Man Utd 2023-24Getty

WINNER: Scott McTominay

After spending £72 million on Rasmus Hojlund, £60m on Mason Mount and making Rashford their highest-paid player, United coud not have been accused of not investing properly in their attack last summer. So who on earth would have thought that five months into the season, McTominay would be their top scorer? This was a player, after all, who United would have happily sold if they had received a proper offer for him.


But McTominay, like Harry Maguire, has knuckled down and turned his fortunes around with hard work. He showed a cool head to steer United ahead when there was a tangible sense of frustration in the air that they had not made the most of their imposing start. His head could also have dropped after missing a double-chance later in the first half, and he took a painful bang to the knee before half-time, but he stayed sharp and got the vital touch to Garnacho’s cross to restore United’s lead.


“He has the skills and the smell,” Ten Hag said. “He’s a very good finisher. Sometimes he is deep, sometimes he is lower, but in our plan we want him to be up there and the team has to make that happen.”


He could have even had a hat-trick after being played in by Antony, but scuffed his shot wide. That miss showed he is still a rough diamond, but it is truly remarkable that he has outscored the likes of Hojlund, Rashford and Bruno Fernandes.



Raheem Sterling Chelsea 2023-24Getty Images

LOSER: Chelsea’s forwards

This was not a good night to be a Chelsea player. They made too many sloppy errors in possession as they constantly invited United into pressuring them and winning the ball high up the pitch. But when the Blues did break the home side’s press, their forwards were found to be severely lacking.


Sterling was perhaps the most underwhelming player on the pitch given the heights he has reached so far this campaign. The former Manchester City man returned to the city he once called home with plenty of responsibility to shoulder, but he looked a shadow of his former self.


He has now played 25 games against United and is still to find the net, and he never came close on this occasion. Too often he was left bemoaning the profligacy of those behind him, but when he did get on the ball, he failed to create anything of note.


He should have waited to play Nicolas Jackson in on goal when the pair got in behind the United defence, with his early pass meaning Andre Onana could close Jackson down and save at his feet, while Sterling also pulled out an outrageous dive in a bid to win a penalty late in the first half.


As well as the aforementioned miss, Jackson again looked short of the quality required at the highest level, and it was he who gave the ball away in the build-up to McTominay’s opener. The Senegalese doesn’t lack for endeavour, but Chelsea desperately require an upgrade in the striker position sooner rather than later.


On the left, Mykhailo Mudryk was practically anonymous. He may have provided the final pass in the move that led to Palmer’s strike, but when he was presented with two first-half chances to net himself, he put both efforts wide when it seemed easier to hit the target.


Erik ten Hag Manchester United 2023-24Getty Images

WINNER: Erik ten Hag

After an eventful start to the week in which the club had banned journalists following stories of player revolts against the manager, Ten Hag badly needed his side to show they were fully behind him. And they did just that. This was a perfect response to the lifeless defeat at Newcastle and showed that there is some fight in this battered and bruised team after all.


The manager made some big calls and got them all right. He finally dropped Rashford from the starting line-up and Antony did him proud on the right wing, working his socks off and giving Diogo Dalot the support he had been missing at St James’ Park. He also made a big call by hooking Victor Lindelof at half-time and shifting Luke Shaw to centre-back, bringing on the often erratic Sergio Reguilon. The Spaniard played with fire in his belly and made some exceptional tackles while also driving the team forward.


Five months into the season, Ten Hag finally has a victory over a team in the top half of the Premier League. Even though Chelsea look disjointed and have even deeper issues than United, they still have top-quality players and took points off Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City. They kept on testing United’s resolve, but the Red Devils fought them off, proving they can fight for their manager after all.


Marcus Rashford Manchester United 2023-24Getty Images

LOSER: Marcus Rashford

At long last, Rashford was given a break from his living nightmare of a season. The United and England forward found himself in the firing line after his miserable performance at Newcastle and he looked like he needed respite.


The bad news from his point of view is that United looked much better without him. Antony, who has had many issues of his own this season, grabbed the opportunity with both hands. The Brazilian was excellent in attack, but also did the defensive dirty work that Rashford has seemed incapable of putting in lately.


And even more concerning for Rashford was the performance of Alejandro Garnacho, who looked like a much better option in the left-wing position, which the homegrown star made his own last season. Garnacho played with swagger and looked like being United’s best hope of finding a winner, either with his own feet or by causing havoc for the opponents.


He fizzed a shot just wide of the far post and then set up McTominay’s winner. He should be a shoe-in against Bournemouth and Bayern Munich, leaving Rashford with a lot of work to do to get back in the side.


Harry Maguire Manchester United 2023-24Getty Images

WINNER: Harry Maguire

Maguire began Wednesday on a high after being named Premier League Player of the Month for November, a testament to his outstanding turnaround, and he fully justified it with an intelligent and brave display.


Maguire’s clever jockeying of Mudryk put the Ukrainian off when he was through on goal in the first half, and he helped tighten up United’s defence after the break, giving Chelsea far less freedom.


But his outstanding moment came when he made a full-blooded, sliding clearance which cut out a dangerous-looking attack from the visitors. He looked to have tweaked a muscle and seemed to be in pain just afterwards, but Maguire bravely battled on and continued to command the defence. After yet another classy and gutsy performance, there is a now a strong case for him to be reinstated as captain.


Mauricio Pochettino Chelsea 2023-24Getty Images

LOSER: Mauricio Pochettino

In an alternate reality, Pochettino might have found himself in the home dugout on Wednesday. Back in 2022, it was felt that the Argentine and Ten Hag were the two main candidates to take the vacant United job, and the Red Devils went with the man who was winning trophies at Ajax.


Whether that was the right or wrong call will be debated long after this game is forgotten, but there is no doubt that the Chelsea boss was out-coached here. He had no answers to United’s energetic pressing, and left his team to flounder against a side that looked much more up for the fight.


Pochettino’s decision to start Marc Cucurella at right-back and Levi Colwill at left-back rather than deploying playing Axel Disasi on the right on Cucurella on the left seemed to make his whole defence feel uncomfortable, and they barely put three passes together before losing possession in the first half. There was slightly more control on display in the second period, but that seemed to be at the expense of Chelsea attacking, with Onana almost a spectator after the break.


This isn’t an easy job, but Pochettino could be doing more to make life simpler for himself and his players.



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