United’s last home game of this shambolic season offered, at long last, something to look forward to after 10 largely disappointing months, in which the highs have been few and far between. The 3-1 win against Hull was also the chance to wave goodbye to Nemanja Vidic and to welcome some new faces on the big stage.
Here’s five things we’ve learnt last night…
1) Goodbye Vida
He might not have been at his best over the last two seasons and the way his transfer to Inter Milan was handled left many with a sour taste in their mouths, but Nemanja Vidic deserved to be remembered as a United great. Forget about winning five Premier League titles, a European Cup and three League Cups and forget even about him being one half of arguably the best centre-back pairing United have ever had, Vida should first and foremost be remembered for his incredible attitude.
The giant Serb epitomised commitment to the red shirt and will be sorely missed, by his teammates as much as from the fans. One can’t help but feeling that out of all the players heading for the exit door at Old Trafford, Vidic was one of those who could have still done an excellent job and we will probably never know the circumstances that surrounded his departure.
Nowadays, a lot of footballers claim they’ll forever hold the club they’re leaving in their heart, but in Vida’s case those words looked to be very much the truth, if his reaction last night is anything to go by.
“He comes from Serbia, he’ll f*****g murder ya!” Thanks for the memories Vida.
2) The future is bright
Since replacing David Moyes Ryan Giggs has never had to win the fans’ support and last night’s decision to field Tom Lawrence and James Wilson confirmed Giggsy, perhaps not surprisingly, embodies the values of this club. Granted, United had nothing to play for and a few players needed a rest having played on Saturday, but handing two youngsters their debut was a brave decision nevertheless.
There was something poetic about seeing a young lad sharing the surname Giggs carried when he made his debut in professional football steal the show with two goals, becoming the first United player to mark his full debut in a league game by scoring twice – Adnan Januzaj had played against Crystal Palace before netting two at Sunderland – since Bobby Charlton.
While Wilson has now scored at four different levels this season, Lawrence was just as impressive, showing great composure and maturity beyond his age. As Giggs said after the game, we have seen a glimpse of the future last night and, on first impression, it looked bright.
3) Jones is his own worst enemy
Phil Jones is a player of incredible potential, but he’s also in danger of never reaching the heights many expect him to, unless he learns to curb his enthusiasm. Jones’ ruthless approach might have been excusable when he first joined United but after yet another injury, one has to question whether he’ll ever learn to control himself on a football pitch.
Last night’s injury, which looks to have place his place at the World Cup in jeopardy, was the fifth time Jones walked out injured in the last 15 months and considering the large majority of his injuries have been a result of his kamikaze attitude, Jones only has himself to blame. Everybody loves a fighter and a player brave enough to put his body on the line for the club, but bravery and fighting spirit are of no use whatsoever when confined in the stands by a cascade of injuries.
4) Adnan can do everything
Adnan Januzaj has arguably been United’s brightest note of the season, a beacon of optimism in a campaign engulfed into the darkness of the dire football United served under David Moyes. Having been rather marginalised towards the end of Moyes’ tenure, Januzaj was given his first start under Ryan Giggs last night and seized his opportunity with both hands, delivering a man of the match performance and playing a pivotal role in the first two goals.
It’s frightening to think that he’s only 19 and exciting to think just how good he is. His ball control, speed and vision were incredible last night, as was his willingness to take his man and, pleasingly, his unselfishness in the box.
Louis Van Gaal has a proven track record with youngsters and while it’s sensible not to burden Januzaj with expectations, it’s hard not to get giddy thinking about just how much potential he has.
5) Giggs knows the score
In his post-match speech Giggsy stressed how important the fans had been for the players throughout this wretched season and showed yet again the sort of attitude United fans want to see from a manager, permanent or caretaker he might be.
“We know it’s been tough this season and, over the years, we’ve been spoiled by the success we’ve had but the support has never changed. You’ve supported the club and staff and I’m sure you will see more success in the coming years.
“I’d just like to say keep supporting us. You’ve seen a little glimpse of the future tonight. We never stand still. We always give youth a chance and play attractive football. Sometimes we don’t win but we give it our all so keep supporting us and the good times will come back soon.”
Here’s hoping that this season will only be remembered as a bad dream in 12 months time.