It had been two months since my last visit to Old Trafford and, at first glance, it didn’t appear like much had changed. There’s still a grey haired chap in the home dugout, but he looks a lot different these days.
Of course, it’s all about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red And White Army these days, with eight wins out of eight going into this game. With each win, I was starting to worry that the first match I go to under his reign would be the first United don’t win, making me feel like a scud.
His reign began with a game against Cardiff City, and will end against the same opposition in May, unless United reach the European Cup Final or the FA Cup Final.
I’m planning on going to that game against Cardiff meaning that this could be the first of two United games i’ll see with Solskjaer as Manager, or the first of many. We shall see.
This wouldn’t be my first time seeing Burnley in the flesh, having seen them play Linfield in a friendly in the Summer of 1997, which I think Burnley won 2-1, with Fast Show legend Chris Waddle being their manager.
Back then, Burnley were over two decades outside of the top flight and barring one season in 1994-1995, were bouncing around the Third and Fourth Tiers for the previous decade.
There are those not much younger than me who only know Burnley as a team of the Top Two divisions of English football having been planted there since winning promotion to what is now The Championship in 2000.
They are currently battling to avoid relegation and secure four seasons of top flight football, to avoid the same fate that fell Ipswich Town in 2002 when they were relegated a year after reaching the UEFA Cup.
Nine successive wins wasn’t the only piece of history United were looking for, they were looking to do the double over Burnley in the Premier League at the fifth attempt. Having finally won a League match at Turf Moor in 2017, the first of three successive wins there, that has been negated by Burnley coming away with a draw in their previous two matches at Old Trafford.
There was a hailstorm in the opening minute at Old Trafford, a few minutes later Marcus Rashford looked certain to put United 1-0 up when he was played through but he toepoked wide when a side foot finish would have put the ball in the back of the net.
It might have been because they were attacking where their fans were based, but Burnley felt confident when they went forward, though all they threw at Untied was a flurry of corners and a shot from Chris Wood.
United had pressure on Burnley’s defence, with a shot from Luke Shaw looping over and a shot from Juan Mata going just wide.
0-0 at half-time but no need to panic, United just needed to step it up.
They certainly did need to step it up when Burnley took the lead on 51 minutes when Ashley Barnes put Burnley 1-0 up after United lost possession in their own defensive third, the first time that United had fallen behind under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The response was to bring Jesse Lingard on from the bench.
Marcus Rashford had a long range shot saved by Tom Heaton saved by Tom Heaton. Every time a cross came into the box, it was always a Burnley head getting in the way, and it always seemed to be a Burnley foot getting to the second ball.
Heaton then made a one hand save to deny Romelu Lukaku from close range. And when United had a shot wide for a goal kick, Heaton would take Elliott Morris amount of time with the goal kick. Spoiler alert – It bit them in the arse later in the game.
Old Trafford was soon stunned as a cross came in and Chris Wood headed home from close range to make it 2-0. With ten minutes to go, and the way the game had gone, it looked like there was no way back for United.
It looked like they were going to get an opportunity to get back into the game with a penalty, as it looked like it had been awarded, but it was a free-kick on the edge of the box, which came to nothing.
On 87 minutes, United did get a penalty for a foul on Jesse Lingard, which Paul Pogba made no mistake to make it 2-1. It was suddenly game on.
With five minutes of injury time to be added on, there was still more than enough time for United to equalise, or possibly even go on and win it.
The pressure continued from United, but Tom Heaton continued to deny them, saving a shot from Paul Pogba, before a goal line save in injury time from Alexis Sanchez looked to have won the game for Burnley, only for the ball to fall for Victor Lindelof to score his first goal for United to make it 2-2.
And still there was time to win the game.
The pressure continued but Burnley were able to hold on for a point. Not an ideal result for United, but it’s better than a defeat.
Even though Arsenal won to go two points ahead of them, Chelsea lost to Bournemouth the following night, meaning that even though United dropped two points, they actually finished the Matchweek a point closer to 4th.
It’s great to have the United of old back. The worst thing that has happened over the last five years is that we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that others are better than us. There’s a serious danger that Liverpool will win the League teams are scared of them. Shamefully, United were one of those teams in December.
Onwards and upwards. Hopefully, by the time i’m next at Old Trafford on the last day of the season, a Top 4 finish will be secured and we’ll have two cup finals to look forward to.