View from the press box: Brentford home
Another Anthony Elanga goal, more Reds fans, one of the best strikes the Stretford End has ever seen and a thoroughly entertaining pre-season game – it felt like normal football life was back at Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men played out an enjoyable first home game of pre-season in front of an excited OT faithful.
Some 30,000 Reds were back inside the Theatre of Dreams and you could feel the buzz of matchday as soon as you stepped out of the car. Even for us, as staff, it was brilliant to catch up with some familiar faces we’ve not seen on matchday in so long. And we had some classic summer Manchester weather to boot – blazing sunshine one minute, monsoons the next!
Pre-match it was great to have some catch-ups with ‘The Voice of Old Trafford’ Alan Keegan and club legend Paddy Crerand. Alan has done in his job in front of an empty OT (bar the Fulham game in May) for nearly 18 months and no-one was happier than him to be able to read out the team-sheet with a host of cheers to soundtrack it. Paddy, meanwhile, was looking forward to a feast of goals with “three or four nil victory for United” predicted.
It wasn’t exactly that scoreline, but it was certainly a feast when it came to the quality of the goals we witnessed. Wow, rarely will Old Trafford have seen a game with three such sweetly-struck goals. And it’s not exaggeration to say Andreas Pereira’s second-half volley will go down as one of the greatest goals we’ve ever seen at the Stretford End.
Back to minute 13 and Elanga’s fabulous hit to get the game off to another strong start for the Reds, just as Jesse Lingard had for us at QPR at the weekend. Our no.36 met Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross superbly to unleash an excellent low volley into the far corner.
The noise that greeted the goal was glorious to hear, but it wasn’t long before there were cheers from the tiny pocket of Brentford supporters in the far corner when Shandon Baptiste followed suit to blast home a sublime volley of his own, which crashed in off the underside of the bar.
It was an entertaining rest of the half but it remained honours even at the break. The half-time pies in the press box were gratefully received – missed those a lot in the last year!
The second half was another entertaining spectacle, featuring a raft of substitutions and more great goals, including Andreas’s worldie.
Getting their first pre-season minutes were Donny van de Beek, who took over the captain’s armband from Nemanja Matic, and Diogo Dalot, and by the end of the game, Ole had introduced a number of the youngsters who were part of the team’s Surrey training camp last week. The boss had asked for a response from his side after losing out at QPR at the weekend and while he’d have wanted to mark the eve of his 25-year anniversary since joining the Reds with a win, it was another solid work-out for his players in the 2-2 draw.
While it might only have been a pre-season match, it’s fair to say every Red will have savoured just being back inside Old Trafford after missing football for so long. Roll on Everton and Leeds next in M16!