The relief was palpable as Robin van Persie’s 93rd minute strike burst into the Stretford End netting. The goal earned Manchester United an improbable draw against Chelsea when the two Premier League heavyweights met recently—a draw that United badly needed after a misfiring start to the season.

The joyous celebratory scenes witnessed in the wake of the goal appeared at odds to the result. They must, however, be looked at in context. Louis Van Gaal’s United revolution has yet to get going properly.

Perhaps this can be the catalyst for progress. Perhaps the season starts now?

It ought to have been so different this time around. A successful pre-season tour of the USA seemed to hint at a season of promise for the Red Devils. The feelings of optimism faded swiftly: an opening day defeat at home to Swansea and draw away to Sunderland saw to that.

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And yet, there was to be another false dawn. The incredibly exciting signings of Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao raised expectations once again but performances on the pitch have fallen flat. Where Chelsea have powered through the season with apparent ease so far, United have struggled to draws with Burnley and West Bromwich Albion and they barely held on for wins against West Ham United and Everton.

Then there was also the capitulation in the second half against Leicester City.

Louis Van Gaal

Despite the ecstatic scenes around him, Louis Van Gaal bemoaned his side losing their heads against Chelsea in the second half. The Dutchman said “normally you have to play your best against the best teams.” Still, what he saw in the dying embers of the game will have reignited hope that he can take this team forward after all.

In those last few seconds of the match against Chelsea, United overloaded the penalty area and displayed a spirited combination of grit, determination and fearlessness. A last throw of the dice, maybe, but they had earned their slice of good fortune.

These are all elements of the United side of old. There is a scramble for Manchester United tickets week-in, week-out and they demand a certain style. It is the swashbuckling United that brings supporters flocking to the stadium. A United that always offer hope. A United that under David Moyes last season, for whatever reason, had been forgotten.

Luke Shaw spoke of the euphoria he felt as Van Persie’s equaliser hit the back of the net: “It’s a feeling I’ve never felt before. The whole crowd got up and you saw how much it meant to all of us. We all jumped on each other. It was crazy, the fans, the stadium sort of erupted.

We spoke in the dressing room and we knew we could have got three points with the chances we had and maybe we could have done a bit better on their goal.”

Maybe that is why Old Trafford reacted as it did. A draw might not help them too much but last season, it seemed like all hope had gone. There are at least some fresh green shoots this time around.