In Louis Van Gaal’s 2nd season in charge, Manchester United fans expected his team to kick on and possibly challenge for the title so what were the memorable moments then?
1) After the Red Devils dropped down from the Champions League into the Europa League, many expected the team to press on and win the competition. After all, it seemed increasingly unlikely United could sneak into the top 4 and a trophy here would secure the team Champions League football for the next season.
First, however, they had beat Midtjylland in February and failed to do so in the first leg. Martial had dropped out of the team through injury in the warm up and it was time for someone to step up. Here, Rashford announced himself to the world, scoring a brace on his debut and making things comfortable for United as they progressed into the next round.
2) It’s perhaps telling that there’s no serious, standout moment in the Premier League for Manchester United until the 3-2 home win over Arsenal in February. Louis Van Gaal was accused of making the Red Devils mind-bogglingly boring but this game was nothing short of sensational.
Marcus Rashford had previously announced himself in the Europa League game against Midtjylland but had to prove that he could do it against the big boys too. And that’s exactly what he did, scoring a brace to give United a win after their horrific loss against the Gunners earlier on in the season.
3) Not long after, United travelled to the Etihad stadium in search of a much needed win after losing to West Brom in the previous game. Louis Van Gaal and his men found themselves in 6th place in March- far from where they needed to be.
The pressure was on Rashford to, once again, perform. His meteoric rise meant that his teammates looked to him for inspiration. The youngster was fearless and direct, the two things missing from LVG’s United. Rashford rose to the occasion and beat City singlehandedly, scoring the only goal of the game.
4) While United’s Premier League campaign wasn’t going too well, the Red Devils were up against a tricky Everton side at Wembley in the FA cup. A win here would send Louis Van Gaal’s men into the final and a possibility of winning their first trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
The pressure was on as United were clear favourites for the game. Fellaini scored against his former team to give the Red Devils the lead but a late Chris Smalling own goal made everyone panic. This time it was Martial who stood up and reminded everyone what he was capable of, scoring a 93rd minute winner to send United through to the final.
5) While Louis Van Gaal and his men had a relatively easy draw throughout the FA cup rounds, a final was still a final- technically there can’t be any favourites. Crystal Palace had intentions of ruining the party and so they did, drawing first blood through Jason Puncheon.
There was no need to panic just yet however as Mata equalised a few minutes later so the question was, could United avoid penalties? Extra time meant tired legs and the Red Devils only found their saviour through substitute and youth academy product Jesse Lingard. The youngster blasted his effort into the top corner in the 110th minute, finally putting a trophy into United’s anxious hands.