Fortunately for Manchester United, they got both on Saturday along with a cherry pie-sized slice of luck. The pressure was immense on Erik ten Hag as he took his side to Fulham off the back of consecutive 3-0 home defeats. A win was desperately required but difficult to find.
United were again flat, insipid, lacking in cohesion or rhyme or any sort of discernable framework. They were staring down the barrel of a bleak goalless draw until Facundo Pellistri intervened, like a blessing from above, with that spark of determination.
The young winger was sprinting down the flank with the ball when Antonee Robinson looked to have pushed him off the ball but Pellistri slid in to direct towards the goal. Jack Flash was back on his feet to chase down the loose ball and to be in place to block Tim Ream&aposs attempted clearance and then stick another foot in when the luck of Fulham&aposs atrocious defending arrived and the box descended into pinball chaos.
The ball was poorly cleared to Bruno Fernandes whose poor pass to Mount was intercepted before Pellistri nipped in once again to win it back and hand it to Fernandes. The captain then produced the long-awaited quality by sending two defenders sprawling with a quick dummy and finding the bottom corner.
Like a walking defibrillator, Pellistri had kept a potential dead ball alive no less than four times thanks to his sheer doggedness. His cool composure to then nudge the ball back to Fernandes for the assist displayed that it wasn&apost all just through hard work, but skill and good decision-making as well.
In that ridiculous passage of play, Pellistri displayed more fight, guile and inspiration than Antony had managed in 63 minutes on the pitch. Or indeed, in any of his minutes all season long. The Brazilian couldn&apost have looked less like the exciting wingers of his homeland if he tried. Instead of thrilling fans by enhancing attacks he would kill them stone-dead with his frivolous use of the ball.
In 11 games this season, Antony is yet to score and assist or do much of any tangible value. Yet he continues to get starts as there are limited options on the right with Jadon Sancho&aposs cutting from the squad.
But Pellistri is an option and it&aposs high time he was given a real chance in the side. It&aposs true, he hasn&apost been brilliant on his three starts this season but it&aposs hardly fair to be judged on such limited opportunities, especially one when came against Bayern Munich. Besides, it hasn&apost stopped Antony from getting significant minutes.
At least Pellistri has already contributed positively to the side. Though he hasn&apost yet found his groove from the first minute, much like Alejandro Garnacho, he usually makes an impact when coming off the bench thanks to his directness and urgency going forward.