Manchester United turned in arguably their best performance of this never-ending, COVID-19-elongated season as they dispatched Brighton at the Amex Stadium 3-0 on Tuesday night.
Bruno Fernandes looked bright up front again, grabbing two goals, while the so-frustrating-at-times Paul Pogba finally turned in a showing that we were used to for France and Juventus before his move to Old Trafford.
The young Mason Greenwood showed maturity beyond his 18 years and linked up well up front with his Portuguese teammate Fernandes, and the back four chalked up another clean sheet in front of confidence-seeking goalkeeper David De Gea.
So all should be looking bright for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men, yet, as has always been the case since Alex Ferguson called it quits, this United team are still flattering to deceive.
They are on a run of 15 games undefeated in all competitions and are in the running for Champions League football, having missed out on Europe’s elite competition this season. Yet the Jekyll and Hyde nature is still there, and if the green were to have rubbed the other way on a number of occasions, they would be nowhere near the fifth spot in the EPL table they currently occupy.
Beating Brighton with a stylish display is one thing, but look a little deeper and you find that their first goal was offside and referee Andre Marriner and his assistants were clearly having an off day when it came to decisions that went decidedly in United’s favour.
United scarcely deserved to even get to extra time against the league’s bottom club Norwich in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday and — pre-coronavirus — had shoddy draws against the likes of Burnley and Wolves and a thumping from Arsenal.
So, yes, things are looking up and Champions League football could be on its way back (by no way a given as they are still fighting with Wolves for fifth, which may be good enough, should Manchester City’s ban get upheld), but if the Old Trafford faithful thing this is a championship winning team, they are way off the mark, and if they think 3-0 at Brighton is an excuse to break out the bunting (these thrashings are routine for City and Liverpool), it shows just how far this once great side have fallen.