Manchester United fans have not had too much to cheer so far under Jose Mourinho, but the 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford yesterday (December 11th) suggested the team has now turned a corner.
For nearly two months the team and manager has been bemoaning a lack of luck as a series of good performances have not been bringing the results they deserve. The woodwork, a series of inspired displays by opposing goalkeepers and a succession of late equalisers have brought repeated frustration.
However, even in the midst of this run things have started to change. Leicester City, Fenerbahce, Feyenoord and West Ham United have all had four goals put past them at Old Trafford, the last of these coming in an EFL Cup game just three days after the same opponents had escaped Old Trafford with another exasperating draw in the Premiership.
The upshot is that the team now has a semi-final against Hull City in the EFL Cup to look forward to, and has qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League.
However, for fans wanting to really see something exciting while enjoying corporate hospitality at Old Trafford, the fact that the team is now playing attacking, enterprising football is the greatest cause for optimism.
In particular, the introduction of Henrikh Mkhitaryan into the side has given the team a new angle. Having been left out as he adjusted to the physical demands of English football, Mkhitaryan has excelled in recent weeks, with his pace, direct running, great finishing and eye for a pass cutting open opposing defences.
Having scored a fine solo goal in the Europa League game against Zorya Luhansk to open his account for the club, Mkhitaryan was at it again against Spurs, running on to Ander Herrera's through ball and slamming an unstoppable shot past Hugo Lloris into the roof of the net.
Unfortunately, the Armenian injured his ankle as he went down under a late challenge from Danny Rose and was carried off on a stretcher. However, Mourinho confirmed after the match that the injury is not serious and he will be fit again for the visit of Sunderland on Boxing Day.
It could easily have been 2-0 when a brilliant Paul Pogba free kick hit the post, but for once, United made enough of their own luck by defending resolutely to keep the Spurs attack at bay.
With Spurs beaten, Manchester City losing at Leicester and Liverpool dropping two points at home to West Ham, the top four suddenly does not look so distant. Now could be a great time to hit form, with so many games to come over the Christmas and new year period.
Upcoming fixtures will include a home tie the third round of the FA Cup against Reading next month as United start their defence of the trophy, while the Europa League draw made today has pitted United against Saint-Etienne.
As the players left the pitch at full-time yesterday, the sky behind the Stretford End was illuminated red by the setting sun, with the swirling cloud like broiling vapours. It was as if the skies were announcing that a red storm is rising. The next few months could prove to be extremely exciting for Manchester United.