The real FC Midtjylland turned up at Old Trafford and were duly despatched by a United mix of teenage prospects, reserves and senior pros on a night local boy Marcus Rashford will never forget, and Memphis DePay found a level of opposition he could dominate. Seventeen players are now on the injured list, but the deputies done well. Rashford 18, and left back Joe Riley, 19, were both making their European debuts. Rashford, born and raised in Wythenshawe, has been tipped for great things for a couple of years and City, Chelsea and Arsenal have all tried to lure him away. Until this season he’s played as a second striker or in the “hole”, but two finely taken goals demonstrated why United think his future is as a centre forward. He showed touch, tenacity and pace.
Simultaneously the much maligned Memphis – and I’ve maligned him more than most – had his best game as a United player. Two back heel nutmegs, some genuine effort and a terrific goal highlighted an all around night of fun and frivolity from the Rolls Royce driving Nani clone. Now let’s see if he can do the same against Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin on Sunday.
The Arsenal game looms as the final test in yet another dramatic week in Unitedom. Somehow Rashford’s exploits have probably pushed Van Gaal’s exit/sacking soap opera off the back pages tomorrow, but’s it’s been quite the week on Twitter, in the media, and the forums. The guys behind the Red Issue forum put together their conspiracy theory as a Twitter timeline.
It’s 23 slides of spectacular reading.
So now for Sunday and Arsenal and a very different test. Beating Shrewsbury and FC Midtjylland is one thing, but let’s remember Arsenal gave Barcelona a good run for their money this week. Realistically the United treatment room door has to open wide if there is to be any chance on Sunday. De Gea, Martial, Smalling, all need to be fit. Rojo needs to start. Jones needs a mind meld with Lazarus.
Tonight was great and uplifting. It’s a big ask for Rashford and Riley to do as well again.