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Transfer Rater: Varane to Man United

Football Whispers

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Football Whispers

Manchester United with a history of road success in March

Manchester United travel to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday -- and their next trip on the road in the league is the clash against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium a fortnight later.

The outcome will go a long way toward determining whether United can stay in the hunt for a top-four finish in the league and subsequent Champions League qualification. An encouraging omen for United is that they have an impressive winning habit, away from home, during the month of March. In the past four years running, they have won every March away game, meaning this is usually a joyful time of year for fans to travel and watch the team.

Here we look back on that record, which United will hope to carry on in 2016, starting at The Hawthorns.

2015 (won vs. Newcastle 1-0, won vs. Liverpool 2-1)

United's away record had not been impressive up to March but then came a victory at Newcastle. Manager Louis van Gaal described the game as his team's best display of the season, up to that point, during his first full season in charge.

At the time, he said that United were involved in a "rat race", highlighting that the points were vital for a top-four finish. It needed an 89th-minute winner to settle the contest though, scored by Ashley Young. There was also controversy as Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse were both banned for spitting at each other.

United maintained their hold on a top-four spot by then going to Anfield and winning, later in the month, stretching their lead over fifth-placed Liverpool to five points. Van Gaal joined his players to celebrate in front of the travelling fans in the Anfield Road end at full-time.

Juan Mata scored to give United a 1-0 lead at half-time, which led to the introduction of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard off the bench. Gerrard was sent off after just 38 seconds and Mata then added to United's glee, with a memorable scissor kick, meaning that they went on to win, despite Daniel Sturridge cutting the deficit.

2014 (won vs. West Brom 3-0, won vs. West Ham 2-0)

United went into the month of March after a dire spell under manager David Moyes, having just lost 2-0 at Olympiakos in a crucial Champions League match and seen their hopes of a top-four finish recede. They still managed to thump West Brom at The Hawthorns, meaning that they were nine points behind fourth-placed Manchester City at the end of the game.

Phil Jones powered in a header to give United a 1-0 lead at the break, then the punishment continued for the Midlands club, as Wayne Rooney nodded in another; Danny Welbeck finished to make it 3-0.

Rooney had reason to be cheerful at The Hawthorns, but things were about to get even better for him later in the month when United visited Upton Park. He scored both of the goals in a 2-0 win, but it was the manner which was special.

His first goal was an audacious lob, scored from just inside the West Ham half, after eight minutes, then he struck home a second just after the 30-minute mark. The opening strike led to comparisons with David Beckham's famous strike against Wimbledon in 1996 -- and Beckham was at Upton Park to watch Rooney's magic.

Wayne Rooney capped a memorable March in 2014 with a spectacular brace at West Ham.
Wayne Rooney capped a memorable March in 2014 with a spectacular brace at West Ham.

2013 (won vs. Sunderland 1-0)

United were cruising towards the title when they made the journey up to the Stadium of Light for their only away league game in the month of March during 2013. Sir Alex Ferguson's men went up to Wearside with a rock-solid recent defensive record, which was comfortably maintained, and the three points were sealed when Robin van Persie struck, with the help of a deflection off Titus Bramble. The victory meant that United were a massive 15 points clear of rivals Manchester City and also ensured that they became the first English club to win 25 of their first 30 top-flight league games.

2012 (won vs. Tottenham 3-1, won vs. Wolves 5-0)

United went into March 2012 aiming to keep the pressure on league leaders Man City and the month got off to a flier when two brilliant strikes from Ashley Young helped cut the gap to two points. It was a happy way for Sir Alex Ferguson to celebrate his 986th league match in charge, which took him ahead of the tally of another Old Trafford legend, Sir Matt Busby.

Young had earlier supplied Rooney, who headed in to give United a 1-0 lead. The former Aston Villa winger added further goals to put United 3-0 up before Jermain Defoe's late strike for Spurs.

By the end of the month, United had left their rivals City trailing and they went four points clear of them by thumping Wolves 5-0. It was a ground on which United had problems previously, having lost on two of their previous three visits at Wolverhampton.

Jonny Evans's goal, from a header, had opened the scoring at Molineux and, after Wolves' Ronald Zubar had been sent off, United ran riot with some clinical finishing. Antonio Valencia, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez (twice) all got on the scoresheet to finish the month in style.

Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @ARejSport.


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