Albion blog: Red don't Mata, as the stripes go marching on!
Another game, another sizeable scalp to add to the collection. Even if United had retained eleven players, I believe they still would have been beaten...writes Albion blogger Duncan Hodgkiss.
We set about the game in a belligerent mood and it rattled United, who arrived at The Hawthorns on the back of four straight wins and with their tails up.
Dawson had two good chances, one a header that went horribly wide when he really should have hit the target. The other was a great effort, a dipping volley that just ended up on the wrong side of the post.
McAuley put a header agonisingly wide as the pressure built, it was deemed to be offside but it was marginal.
The sending off was absolutely the correct decision, despite Van Gaal's wild ramblings about the character of the player. Mata was at fault on both occasions and he left he referee no option but to issue a red card.
That Van Gaal interview, amongst others, highlights the eccentricity of the man and makes you grateful to have a straight talking honest Manager in charge of our club.
What was pleasing about the way we handled the sending off was the fact that we didn't suddenly go 'gung ho' and try and lay siege to the United goal. We remained calm, patient and composed and ground our opponents down with intelligent probing and a high work rate.
Pulis made a reference to our approach, citing Palace and Liverpool as an example. In that game earlier, Palace were a goal up and in control. Liverpool were reduced to ten men and the game turned. Complacency against the top teams in those circumstances must not be allowed to set in, and it didn't.
We rarely looked troubled by United and all the pre match hype surrounding young Marcus Rashford turned out to be just that. He was comfortably contained by G-Mac and Olsson respectively.
Yacob had a superb game. It was as good as his display against Chelsea last season in that famous 3-0 drubbing.
Fletcher looked really up for the battle against his old club too and was brilliant in midfield.
James Chester had his best game for us, in my opinion, switching flanks admirably when Dawson had to go off injured. An encouraging sign.
It's also very pleasing to see Rondon getting the goals, and the plaudits, his tireless work richly deserves. He never gives the shirt anything less than his all and we should be proud to have him in our team.
Berahino's reintroduction has been key in allowing Rondon to play to his strengths. You have to be pleased with how Saido has knuckled down and applied himself recently.
The whole team performed excellently from back to front and the lingering fears of a relegation scrap have been well and truly banished.
It's been 32 years since we last savoured a home win against the Red Devils and it was fully deserved.
Let's hope we can expand upon this good form and put together a strong sequence of results to finish the season.
A top half finish should be the target and we are more than capable of eclipsing our record tally of 49 points. It's nice to see some positivity return and renewed confidence in the Manager.
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