Last season Championship side Middlesbrough came to Old Trafford to eliminate a Premier League team short on confidence from the fourth round of the FA Cup – but things have changed in the past year, as Reading found out. The United players and supporters have confidence in what is happening on the pitch under Erik Ten Hag. There were no concerns when chances were wasted in the first half because everyone knew more would come.
There was a Brazilian feel to Manchester on a wet Saturday with Antony twisting and turning Reading defenders all night, Casemiro channelling his inner-Ronaldinho and Fred netting with the sort of flick few would have through him capable of prior to this season. The United fans even got to enjoy former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll being sent off for two bookable offences after an evening of inept challenges.