A couple of weeks ago I (sort of) complained about United always trying to walk the ball into the net instead of taking more shots from outside the area.
So, against Bolton we go and score three goals from multi-pass moves, the third of which was, according to United, the most passes (16) without an opponent touching the ball leading to a goal in the Championship this season.
This was as comfortable a win as I have seen United have away from home for … I don’t know; even many of the away wins in the promotion season were either hair-raising or attritional. I remember United under Howard Kendall once going 3-0 up quickly at Stoke’s old Victoria Ground and coasting to a 4-0 win, but such victories as east as that one and at Bolton are rare.
It was in fact United’s best performance, home or away, since promotion, and this against a previously unbeaten team. Phil Parkinson reckoned his team started slowly, allowing United to take the initiative. No they didn’t: they never even got that far, as United dominated literally from the first second and could have scored twice before Mark Duffy’s fifth-minute goal.
The difficult task now will be proving it wasn’t a one-off and keeping this sort of form going to build a run of positive results. Chris Wilder says he doesn’t want United to be a “spike” team, but in the Championship there are too many good sides to expect an unabated climb to the top.
Phil Parkinson may have made a miscalculation in his team selection. Had he done his research properly he would have noticed that Erhun Oztumer and Yannick Wildschut always score against United, yet he left them both on the bench. This was a mistake. Oztumer scored for Peterborough and Walsall at least twice, and Wildschut for Wigan twice and Norwich, last season.
Oztumer’s former Walsall teammate Amadou Bakayoko is another who always scored against United, but he plays for Coventry now so we might not see him for a year or two. Years ago Kevin Drinkell, for Grimsby and then Norwich, was another. Another player who always scored against United was one Leon Clarke (Coventry, Wolves, Scunthorpe, Bury; in fact the only team he failed to score against us for was Wednesday) but he has more than made up for the deficit he began with when he joined United. All he needs to do now is start knocking them in again for us.