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Manchester United have finally got what they wanted

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Left foot or right foot, inside or outside. Mason Greenwood is dynamite, as the song goes, and if the 18-year-old was backed by Manchester United's travelling supporters at Brighton they would have aired their paean to the tune of David Bowie's Starman. Greenwood is still a boy but already a star.

His friends at United nicknamed Greenwood the 'Brazilian Ronaldo' due to his shorn lockdown haircut and the teenager's goal - dedicated to the departing Angel Gomes - was reminiscent of Ronaldos Brazilian and Portuguese; a step-over and an unerring finsh. Greenwood has now tallied 13 goals in his first full season and Ronaldo ended his third with United on 12.

Greenwood's two-footedness flummoxes opponents and on his approach into the area it was impossible to tell from the vertiginous press box whether he would go inside or outside, left foot or right foot, and the sizeable Lewis Dunk did not get near him. Gary Neville never struggles to be heard but 20 rows lower down raised the decibels in appreciation.

The step-over that threw Dunk opened up the gap for Greenwood to rifle in and that finish is becoming his calling card. It is that variety that has elevated him above Daniel James and into the United first-team; this was the first time Greenwood had started successive Premier League games and a hat-trick awaits against Bournemouth on Saturday. 

For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has settled on a first XI, at least until the end of the season, for the first time since his caretaker tenure. United are unbeaten in 15 and reverted to pragmatism for some of those triumphs yet look like a team that no longer have to make any allowances for the opposition. The back four is stable, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes are underpinned by a renascent Nemanja Matic and the attacking trident is the most talented, with more goals between them than Liverpool's title-winning triumvirate.

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The goalkeeping situation is not as topical in the wake of recent errors by Dean Henderson, his loan to Sheffield United now extended, and Sergio Romero. David de Gea has hit double figures for Premier League clean sheets and his acrobatic denials of Aaron Connolly and Neal Maupay elicited uproarious celebrations from the United bench.

A fortnight on from the season's restart, every major player is still available for Solskjaer and his ruthlessness is blossoming; Jesse Lingard and Diogo Dalot were cut from the squad again after their ineptitude in the FA Cup at Norwich and the same side that dismissed Sheffield United started again. In the absence of crowds, it is the crowd-pleasing XI; United were unchanged in the league for the first time since December.

The boy Greenwood can create, too. Greenwood will not mind his opener was topped by a fabulous 50th-minte counter-attack that was started and finished as thought it was played on a computer game. Greenwood's dinked assist was volleyed in by the totemic Fernandes.

It was an achievement that Greenwood's perceptive pass trumped Matic's zipped delivery and Fernandes has to become the Premier League's maiden Juine Goal of the Month winner. There were 12 seconds between Harry Maguire's headed clearance and the ball bouncing past Mat Ryan. The United counter-attacking compilation is in need of an update.

Fernandes is now on six goals in 13 appearances, his first at Brighton from a Pogba pass at the second time of asking, having struck the post with a cleaner hit. Marcus Rashford's rustiness is a minor issue and he is unfortunate in that his return from convalescence is compared with Pogba's. Rashford was eventually brought off.

Fernandes has scored six times for United (Image: 2020 Manchester United FC)

Neville scrutinised Ed Woodward's body language following the listless defeat at Brighton last season and this time he was literally laid back in his leather-padded chair at the Amex. Mutiny has threatened to break out at Brighton for United in the past and the change in Woodward's mood on his third visit could hardly have been more removed from his last, when Jose Mourinho had vacated the dressing room by the time Woodward had arrived.

Solskjaer could also sit back and marvel at another performance so accomplished Pogba and Fernandes were withdrawn just past the hour mark. United are closing in on equalling the 17-match undefeated run from Mourinho's first term, with five of their last six league games below the mid-table line. The 'we beat them at home and we beat them away' lyric could rarely be truer post-Ferguson.

United had taken 19 points from 14 games against bottom-half teams upon arrival at Brighton and dropped 23. Brighton players were especially vocal and often the only sound from United was that of boot connecting with ball, usually measured to precision. 'Home advantage' has been revoked from the smaller sides until supporters click through the turnstiles again.

Just like against Sheffield United, United procured an early breakthrough en route to an early win through Greenwood's virtuoso solo goal on 16 minutes. Dunk did not know if he would go left or right.




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