London: Four wins a row have lifted Manchester United into the Premier League`s top four and Louis van Gaal`s managerial reign is beginning to bear fruit after a difficult start.
Although home victories over Crystal Palace, Hull City and Stoke City would not normally set pulses racing at Old Trafford, the gutsy win at Arsenal showed signs of the fierce team spirit that underpinned Alex Ferguson`s glittering reign at the club.
Van Gaal has overcome a spate of injuries that have forced him to field a patched-up defence in almost every match and United`s resurgence has been epitomised by the form of the much-maligned Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young.
Fellaini, signed by former manager David Moyes and seen as a symbol of his unhappy spell at the club, has been a stalwart in Van Gaal`s midfield, using his physical attributes to great effect at both ends of the pitch.
He struck a spectacular goal at West Bromwich Albion, his first for United, and his far-post header opened the scoring against Stoke.
“It’s good for the confidence to score the goal,” he told reporters.
“It was a great cross as well and it was a great combination, so it’s good. I feel a little bit tired as I start to play every game so I feel the fatigue but I have to rest and work hard again.
“We know each other a lot better and we know the manager and the staff,” Fellaini added.
“We know the philosophy of the manager. We are training hard as well so we have to continue like that. It is good to win four games in a row. We have to continue like that.”
Young, a peripheral figure under Moyes, has also flourished in an unfamiliar left back role.
The former England winger has always possessed pace and an eye for goal but was not noted for the diligent defensive work he has put in, highlighted by a last-gasp goalline clearance against Stoke.
Van Gaal`s defensive injury problems are slowly easing and goalkeeper David de Gea has been a rock.
Striker Robin van Persie is struggling to make an impact but with Wayne Rooney in good form and Radamel Falcao restored to full fitness, United will look to continue their upward momentum as games come thick and fast in the next month.