This weekend I was elated watching Chelsea humiliate themselves against Burnley, Klopp stare in disbelief at Watford and Arsenal “Arsenal” at home. I cheered when Wayne Rooney scored a free header in Goodison Park and celebrated like he was 18 again. I was even happy to see Liverpool legends Rafael Benitez and Jonjo Shelvey lose at home. The Premier League season is well and truly on.
Yet, I did not wake up the morning of Manchester United’s game against West Ham United feeling fine. Four years of poor results at Old Trafford have made their mental mark. Boring predictable play, mistakes and late opposition goals have hung like a cloud over the Stretford End, the tables where my local supporters club gathers, and my living room couch.
In the opening minutes, United pushed forward, but the new-look Hammers looked organized. Manchester United looked positive in all areas on the pitch, and the Faithful were in full voice. Cheers greeted every pass, every tackle, and every run. Yet, that foreboding feeling hung over me.
Then, in the 33rd minute Lukaku shoots from an angle, past Hart, but he ball hit the post. In that split second I screamed thinking the ball was bouncing out and every goal denied by the post last season flooded my mind. Before I was done my scream the ball was in the back of the net. Romelu Lukaku scored on his Old Trafford debut, and the Red Devils were leading at home.
That goal made the game easier to watch. I could enjoy Pogba surging forward and passing midfielders with ease. I relished Rashford’s breathtaking runs on the sidelines and in the box. I appreciated Mata’s intelligent passing and Mhicki’s ball control and overlapping runs behind the strikers. I even smiled at Phil Jones clearances and hard tackles. I cheered Lukaku’s second and was happy to see Martial on the score sheet. I marveled at Matic’s midfield masterclass.
By the time Pogba scored in the 90th minute, I knew I was into something good.