In a game of two halves, Manchester United started fast and beat Brighton 2-1.

The win at Old Trafford gave United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer an incredible seven consecutive wins (six in the Premier League) and kept up their push for a top four spot. What did we learn?

1. Marvellous Marcus

What a difference a non-toxic head coach makes, eh? Just two months ago people were lamenting Marcus Rashford as a lost talent, some even went as far as to compare him to the beloved-but-disappointing Danny Welbeck. A hard-working and exciting wing-forward who just never developed a scoring touch. Funny thing… you don’t hear much of that talk anymore, do you?

Rashford is a striker bristling with confidence. Not just the confidence of playing – he did plenty of that under Mourinho – but playing in his best position of striker. And not only playing as striker but playing with the full support of the manager, knowing that a goalless display won’t invite performative nonsense from the gaffer on the touchline and a trip to the bench for himself.

Rashford was brilliant against Brighton, with his goal being a particular highlight. Fed into the left-hand channel by Diogo Dalot, Rashford was being chased down to the byline by Pascal Gross. It was smart defending, but Rashford is too hot right now. He cut the ball back onto his right side with a mini-Cruyff Turn before rolling it out from under his feet, setting it for the shot that he then rocketed into the far corner of the net whilst holding off two defenders.

It was a wondrous goal, his fourth in four consecutive Premier League games – making him the youngest man to reach that milestone in England’s top division. People need to start readjusting expectations when it comes to Marvellous Marcus Rashford, because this kid has world-class talent and cannot be stopped right now.

2. Phenomenal Pogba

Remember when he was overrated? A soft touch? A dilettante who had neither the drive nor desire to make the most of his obvious talent? Remember when he got dropped for Scott McTominay? SCOTT MCTOMINAY? Squawka remembers. Squawka can never forget.

At the end of a week where his partner has given birth to his first child and his former manager has thrown shade at him in the press, Paul Pogba delivered a delightful performance. A display that was capped not by his goal (though seeing him score after that useless run-up is always impressive) but by the touch he took to earn the penalty.

With the ball falling out of the sky, the Frenchman’s first touch was immaculate both in its strength and technique. Pogba absorbed the momentum and immediately redirected it almost exactly back in the direction it came from, leaving poor Gaetan Bong scrambling for dear life. Pogba skipped ahead of him to reach the ball, and Bong clumsily brought him down. Penalty, goal, whatever. The touch, the magical touch to turn a nothing crossfield pass into, effectively, a goal – that was the perfect riposte to José Mourinho.

3. Beleaguered Brighton battle bravely

Brighton were 2-0 down and left without a trace of hope at half-time. But Chris Hughton’s men from the south coast were not going to take this lying down. Sure, Manchester United had won six in a row and had a comfortable lead, but why should that stop them?

The Seagulls came out after half-time with a wholly different energy, they pressed and harried United repeatedly and managed to turn the momentum of the game around in their favour. They focused on attacking United’s full-backs, sending crosses into the box.

For the most part United managed to resist, but when Davy Propper clipped in a beautiful cross with the outside of his foot, Phil Jones quite predictably got underneath the ball and allowed it to sail over his head. Pascal Gross managed to redeem himself for being spun by Marcus Rashford for United’s second goal by appearing to stab the ball home and bring Brighton back into the game.

That the last 10 minutes was Brighton laying siege to the Manchester United goal and not The Red Devils calmly controlling the game was a huge compliment to Chris Hughton’s men. Their ability to keep on fighting, even in the most dire of situations, is seriously impressive.

4. Left-back issues linger

There’s a clear improvement at Manchester United but one position remains a problem: left-back. Luke Shaw has been superb so far under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but he always plays under the spectre of injury, and true enough he was taken ill in the warm-up to this game and thus had to be replaced last minute by Diogo Dalot.

Dalot played reasonably well. He wasn’t a disaster or anything, but he wasn’t exactly solid and got caught napping for Brighton’s goal. A better side than the Seagulls would have really made The Red Devils pay for their lack of depth on the left-hand side of defence. It’s clear that United absolutely must enter the market for a left-back in January if they are to keep the good times rollin’.

5. Holistic fixes

Manchester United had so many problems when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over, but the Norwegian as well as his coaching staff, including Mike Phelan and Michael Carrick, have turned things around. The Red Devils now look like a side where their centre-back crisis now only appears to be a minor issue against aggressive sides (or whenever Phil Jones decides to “do a Phil Jones” and whilst they have no depth at left-back, when Luke Shaw is healthy he looks great.

In midfield the issue of Nemanja Matic being an absolute tragedy to watch has been eased. He’s now merely average, which is a huge improvement. Paul Pogba is playing brilliantly as the side’s attacking midfielder, and Marcus Rashford is in the form of his life up-front.

How has Solskjaer made all these fixes? How has this turnaround happen? Well it’s a holistic approach: first, you make everyone happy, then you establish a baseline style (i.e. attack fast and often) and from there, the good times will flow. Fixing the player’s attitudes and lifting their spirits has meant that all the other tactical issues have come so easily. As a result, Solskjaer is the first Manchester United manager to win his first six league matches in a row.

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