There was an almighty roar at Old Trafford this afternoon, as the full-time whistle was blown and Man United ran out 2-1 winners against Brighton.
It was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s seventh win in a row in all competitions and saw Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba light up the Theatre of Dreams once more.
But as United’s players walked off the pitch, the biggest cheer of all was reserved for Victor Lindelof, who could be seen handing his shirt to a small boy in the crowd before clapping the home fans and heading off down the tunnel.
The centre-back was at his very best this afternoon, coping expertly well with the nervy final 20 minutes of the game as Brighton fought for the equaliser that never came.
Every player at United has seemingly improved under Solskjaer – notably Rashford and Pogba – but perhaps their player of the season (so far, at least) should really be Lindelof.
After all, the Sweden international looks like a completely different player to the one we watched last year.
During his debut campaign, he really seemed to struggle with the physical aspects of the Premier League, while the ball-playing skills he was famous for at Benfica were non-existent.
Memorably, against Huddersfield in October 2017, the defender was guilty of dithering on the ball when under-threat from Aaron Mooy, which lead to the Australian netting the opener in their famous win over the Red Devils.
After that, it seemed as if Jose Mourinho had lost trust in his summer-signing and he soon found himself below the likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo in the defensive pecking order.
But fast forward to this season and he’s widely considered United’s strongest defender.
The hype began in October, when United faced Juventus in the Champions League at Old Trafford.
Up against the Serie A giants, Lindelof surprised fans with his reading of the game and he finished up without conceding a single foul, while no other player made more clearances, blocks or interceptions.
Then, in November, he was the star of the show in United’s goalless bore-draw with Crystal Palace, when the Swede played the final few minutes clearly in discomfort with an injury, but played on through the pain to chase down a forward pass and keep the scoreline level.
It’s commitment like that always goes down well.
Against Brighton today, Lindelof also showed he’s not just good at the defensive bits, which was evident by his fabulous lofted pass forward towards Anthony Martial.
Overall, he’s proven to be defensively sound and adventurous on the ball this season, with his forward play a vital cog in the Red Devils new, counter-attacking system under Solskjaer.
And just think, Mourinho wanted to sign another centre-back over the summer.
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