For those who were harbouring concerns about the Jose Mourinho era at United, this match may have put your mind at ease.
This was an absolute throwback to the glory days – not necessarily in style, as Mick Phelan’s Hull set up to frustrate – but the presence of a ‘Fergie Time’ winner, and from an Academy graduate at that, would remind most of a glorious era not long gone by.
The team we fielded from the outset today is far from our strongest. The pragmatic manager preferring, for now, to keep faith with some who had a more straightforward pre-season.
But after the international break, one feels that some of the players who would normally be in our strongest XI will be knocking on the door looking for a start – step forward Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Marcus Rashford, too.
Hull have a threadbare, but well-drilled squad and they probably deserved a point after a spirited performance in the belting summer evening rain.
In fact, this match often reminded of the type of draw we would often suffer through under past regimes. The result where a plucky underdog lays it all on the line and leaves the Reds frustrated again.
This match did not enhance the claims of Anthony Martial or Juan Mata, that’s for sure. The Frenchman still looking a shadow of his formerly direct and dynamic self, and the Spaniard resembling the player that is being played away from his preferred position and not enjoying it.
Martial’s had a bummer of a summer. Being inexplicably benched at the Euros, losing his squad number [albeit to a well-respected player who is his senior] and not performing well to boot. He’s lost his mojo, and it was a no-brainer when he was subbed for his Armenian teammate.
At the back, it may be hard for Mike to force his way in for the moment – as the Blind/Bailly partnership is showing some promise. Although as you know, I still don’t fancy the man-bunned-one as a central defender.
And what would a United match in these past few seasons be without a divisive performance from the skipper? Floating along ineffectively for 90 minutes, only to come up with the decisive cross for young Marcus as the clock ticked down. Rooney will surely be the biggest test of Mourinho’s ruthless streak.
Remember that feeling of ‘can United score, they always score”? It was certainly present in the last 20 minutes of this one as the Tigers tired and the Devils – inspired by the right subs at the right time – finally broke through. It felt inevitable, just like it used to.
Both Micki and Marcus were a breath of fresh air, and you could sense the game change in our favour as they unleashed a wave of pacy attacks at the tiring Tigers back-line.
So much credit must go to the gaffer right now.
He came in with the right transfer targets in mind and landed the lot. Filling mostly every need this team had for upgrades in what is likely the greatest transfer window we’ve ever witnessed.
He speaks of challenging for the title and has quickly reinstalled the belief in the changing room that we can do just that.
But while there are still improvements to be made and a pesky international break to slow down the momentum, it’s a performance like this – three points that looked unlikely – that will surely have the supporters aching for the next match.
The derby with Pep’s noisy neighbours will surely be a humdinger.