Sport

Who do you think is United Best Unpopular Hero

Manchester United dug in deep at an Elland Road that was stormy in every sense of the word in order to obtain a sweet 4-2 success over Leeds United.

As interim manager Ralf Rangnick was keen to emphasise, it was very much a team display of character and resilience that yielded the victory, particularly after seeing a two-goal lead wiped out by the home side’s goals in the 53rd and 54th minutes.

You voted in huge numbers for our official Man of the Match award, with Jadon Sancho pipping Bruno Fernandes to the accolade, and Paul Pogba clear in third place.

However, it was one of those performances where aside from the obvious candidates, including skipper Harry Maguire, whose header opened the scoring, there were some unsung heroes who we feel were deserving of some more recognition.

Our writers argue the case for four of the Reds on show in windswept West Yorkshire…

FRED (Adam Marshall):

I was lucky enough to speak with Fred on Thursday and discussed the nature of the rivalry with Leeds. He felt he didn’t have his best performance in the win over Brighton & Hove Albion and was clearly determined to showcase his top form at Elland Road. When he came off the bench, he was excellent, not withstanding his smartly taken goal with his left foot.

The Brazilian’s trademark energy and enthusiasm was always going to be helpful on the soggy surface and he played with real intent throughout his appearance, breaking up the home side’s attacks and launching our own.

You sensed he was enjoying himself in a tough environment and it is about time he got more respect and recognition for his contribution to the cause.

A popular figure in the dressing room, he is somebody who is thriving under Ralf Rangnick and capable of doing even better.

VICTOR LINDELOF (Mark Froggatt):

Sunday’s blood-and-thunder battle at Elland Road was an occasion that was made for centre-backs and, while Harry Maguire deservedly grabbed the headlines for his captain’s goal, I thought Victor Lindelof was also excellent from start to finish, in both defence and attack.

The Swede’s passing – which is underrated, in my view – was consistently positive and often up the right channel for our forwards to pursue. Although he isn’t lauded for his physicality, he fully embraced the torrid conditions and slid perfectly into a tackle on Mateusz Klich during the first half, as one of nine ball recoveries across the 90 minutes. But his best moment was an offensive movement.

From deep inside our half, Lindelof exchanged passes with Jadon Sancho, drove up the pitch, twisted past his marker and played a neat ball back to Sancho for him to assist Bruno Fernandes’s goal. It was a genuinely influential piece of play and his overall display deserves so much credit.

SCOTT McTOMINAY (Sam Carney):

My unsung hero nomination goes to United’s very own marathon man, Scott McTominay. Our no.39’s grit and resolve has been clear to see since he made his Reds debut back in 2017, but the unique, blood-and-thunder nature of Sunday’s contest saw Scott ramp the physical elements of his game up to 11.

From the very first moments of the match at Elland Road, our midfielder seemed to be negotiating a never-ending series of 50-50s, taking on one opponent after another like the main character in an early ‘90s video game.

His 11.16 kilometres of distance covered was unmatched by any of the 28 players who featured in Sunday’s Roses derby and, at times you felt tired just watching him! Scott may have toed a disciplinary line as the 90 minutes wore on but he never shirked a challenge and provided the solid midfield platform on which United would eventually emerge victorious.

AARON WAN-BISSAKA (Joe Nelson):

Despite starting his first Premier League fixture since 3 January, Aaron Wan-Bissaka largely looked assured and untroubled by Leeds’ attacking pace. His defensive grit was evidenced in the second half when the right-back performed a string of firm sliding challenges to suppress the hosts’ attempts to make tracks.

While both of the Whites’ goals came down Wan-Bissaka’s side, Rodrigo’s cross-cum-shot was a fortuitous one, and Raphinha’s equaliser came after it seemed Bruno Fernandes had been fouled.

Considering the energy and intensity that Leeds play with, Ralf Rangnick can be very pleased with the 24-year-old’s performance and concentration after his spell out of the side.

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