When Sunday’s starting XI was announced, one name drew copious ire from the Manchester United faithful – Andreas Pereira.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shown an elevated loyalty to the Belgium-born Brazil international this season; despite entering the weekend with just a solitary assist to his name, the 23-year-old midfielder had featured in all but one of United’s 11 Premier League games by that point, more significantly starting 10 of them.
Perhaps understandably then, some supporters questioned why he was being selected ahead of Juan Mata, a well-established No.10 with 41 Spain caps and 110 Premier League goal involvements on his CV, with one fan even describing Solskjaer’s selection decision as a ‘sucker punch’.
Mata has a brilliant game on Thursday and he’s dropped for Pereira pic.twitter.com/3uRwgsubbI
— Kieran Johnson (@SirKJohno) November 10, 2019
Andreas Pereira in the starting lineup is a sucker punch. He should have use Mata again. #MUNBHA
— Temiii (@Adeyemi_drizzt) November 10, 2019
Pereira starting again after Mata drops a clinic in midweek. I think Ole believes in chaos more than quality.
— v⚽️etbal (@seanbaywood) November 10, 2019
Others, meanwhile, simply fumed at the fact Pereira had been selected for the top flight clash against Brighton as United looked to bounce back from defeat away at Bournemouth. One fan declared that he ‘brings absolutely nothing to the team’.
Oh why oh why does Pereira keep starting??
— SimplyPogba (@wintermeth) November 10, 2019
Andreas Pereira after his last performance?🤮
— Jᴀʏ.🇸🇦 (@JayUtd17) November 10, 2019
Like Perreira brings absolutely nothing to the team, just running aimlessly and conceding unwarranted fouls.
— Immagination (@TheRabbi90) November 10, 2019
why is Ole always insisting on Andreas Perreira and he is always a liability when he plays
— R A P E E S M O ❁ (@itsRapeesmo) November 10, 2019
Enough with this Pereira nonsense.
— CalMitch (@mitchell_calum) November 10, 2019
But it was the 5 foot 10 creator who ended up having the last laugh, silencing his critics by opening the scoring for United. He peeled into space on the edge of the box and applied a finish to Anthony Martial’s delivery that hit an incoming Brighton defender before ballooning past a helpless Mat Ryan into the back of the net.
Perhaps there was a slice of fortune about Pereira’s first goal of the season but it proved to be just one aspect of a productive and busy performance. The one-time PSV youngster created the second-most chances of any United player after Martial with three, completed one dribble and landed the joint-most shots on target of any United player alongside Marcus Rashford – three again.
Whether this proves to be something of a turning point for Pereira remains to be seen – an advanced midfielder for a club of United’s quality should have more than just two goal involvements to his name at this point in the Premier League campaign.
But Pereira certainly hushed the starting XI critics on Sunday, vindicating Solskjaer’s decision to give him the nod over the seemingly more popular Mata.