Amrabat acclaimed for fine full debut
Old Trafford got its first look at Sofyan Amrabat and the Morocco international certainly did not disappoint in this particular audition.
A display oozing authority, tenacity and, above all, versatility was greatly appreciated by the home crowd, who liked what they saw of our latest loanee.
Amrabat had a late cameo at left-back at Burnley, replacing fellow loan arrival Sergio Reguilon, and was asked to fill the role again from the first whistle against Crystal Palace in the start of our Carabao Cup defence.
Before the game, boss Erik ten Hag described him as a "warrior" and said "he will play where the manager needs him".
While he may have operated in the first half as a left-back, it was an inverted role for the no.4, who evoked memories of Juan Sebastian Veron wearing that number with his shaved head and beard.
While his first shot in red may have been a wayward one, skied high into the East Stand, it was merely the first sighter en route to a 3-0 win for the holders, and a smooth passage into round four.
There was a lot of work done centrally by one of the stars of the last World Cup and, once he settled, his passing became less conservative and more ambitious. A fine ball out to Facundo Pellistri was one example of his range.
Although other sweeping passes were a feature of his play, it was his combative nature that most appealed to the Stretford End. Tackling and challenging with experience, nous and strength: one lesson taught to young Eagles prospect Jesurun Rak-Sakyi earned generous acclaim from the noisy section of fans.
Yet there was clearly another benefit to Amrabat playing such a role and offering more security in the middle. Perhaps it freed Casemiro a little more to spray crossfield passes with real abandon, relishing the occasion and opportunity to show off his considerable talents, aside from scoring the second goal.
After a delicious pass down the line was his final contribution to the opening half, Amrabat reappeared in a different role, the one where he sparkled during the World Cup finals.
Victor Lindelof slotted in at left-back and, with Mason Mount, another impressive performer, making way, the African quickly adjusted to a place in the engine room.
Getting his foot in inside the first two minutes of the restart showed what he was all about and he provided a tigerish and reassuring influence as we controlled proceedings. He was even involved in the build-up to the third goal, albeit when his pass was only half cleared to Casemiro, who crossed brilliantly for Anthony Martial to score.
In presumably what was a pre-planned move, he departed on the hour mark, with his work done.
We all look forward to seeing what he can do against the same opponents on Saturday afternoon, buoyed by this positive impression of what he can contribute.
The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.