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Comeback wins show Reds' belief has returned

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So many emotions are felt by every Manchester United supporter during each game and Monday's 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace was certainly no different in this respect.

It's a roller-coaster experience following the Reds but there was one key ingredient to this latest success, which should give us hope for the rest of the season. When Patrick van Aanholt broke clear down the left to hammer in the second goal for the Eagles, all appeared lost.

Yet there was every reason to have belief. We had trailed to Chelsea in our previous match, only to turn things around and defeat the 2016/17 Premier League champions. There was still time to retrieve this situation but things looked desperate at that point. Perhaps it was fair to say overturning a two-goal deficit looked like a mountain to climb.

Goals: Crystal Palace 2 United 3Video

As is the case with every United defeat, the reaction would have been a seismic one. A loss to the out-of-form Londoners would have been deemed a catastrophe by many and handed Liverpool the upper hand ahead of Saturday's big game. Stats were already being fired out on social media and talk of an unwanted treble, following the away defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United in our previous two domestic league matches, was rife.

Some of those statistics seemed crushing. After Chelsea had failed to surrender a single point from a winning position in the Premier League this term, until United's comeback at Old Trafford, we now discovered Palace were not only unbeaten after taking the lead in a 2017/18 league game but had never lost when having a two-goal lead in the division. The fall-out was already starting to build before the game had even finished. I admit it felt like some people could not wait to talk of a crisis at a club that would end the night in second place in the table.

It's not like Jose Mourinho's team have failed to come back since he took over the job, and not just in the past couple of matches. There was the exciting late win over Middlesbrough at the end of 2016 and the 4-1 battering of Newcastle last November, just for example.

But this felt like a proper United comeback, the ones we all cherish. When the depths of despair are transformed into sheer joy by a response that does not even look on the cards. Chris Smalling's header was vital in giving us a foothold in the game and Romelu Lukaku's equaliser came with enough time to complete the turnaround.
It is fair to say Palace were looking just as likely to break and get a winner but the feeling remained that the hosts, low on confidence, could be undone at the death - as they had been by Tottenham  in their previous fixture. It just felt like a chance would come and, when it did, we would have to take it. Nemanja Matic emerged as the hero, right on cue, and the celebrations betrayed exactly what it meant to the players and fans alike.

“I always believe we can win,”
said Jose.
“I will be like that until my last day.”
Under Sir Alex Ferguson, this was the thought of every supporter. No situation is irretrievable. Two goals down to Everton in 2007 and the title slipping away? No problem, 4-2. The same at West Ham four years later: just play Ryan Giggs at left-back and take it from there. 

Trailing 3-0 at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in 2011/12, back we came to force a point. 3-0 down at half-time at White Hart Lane to Spurs in 2001; the second half was as good as anything we've witnessed by the Reds, or anybody for that matter in a single half of Premier League football, racking up five goals without reply.

This felt like the forming of a higher level of trust between the team and the supporters. Maybe we have rediscovered that magic formula of being capable of facing adversity by responding in the time-honoured United way, fighting fire with fire and pushing until the last whistle. Making the unlikely happen. The more you do it, the more the opposition fears it happening as well.
Jose made tactical changes that were instrumental at Selhurst Park. Introducing Marcus Rashford to provide more flair and pace on the left and even taking a decision he called
“crazy”
to switch Jesse Lingard to the most attacking of right-backs. It was a major risk and made a mockery of those who continually try to paint the boss as a cautious coach.

There was something uplifting about this comeback, something that will give me hope even when if the Reds fall behind. If we can maintain this mentality, who knows how far it can take us? The belief is back and let's look to take this spirit into the weekend's mouthwatering clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford.

The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.

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