You can see why the Premier League's self-appointed big six would rather they did not have to compete with the likes of Leeds United. The Whites have made life characteristically hard for them in the last three games, beating Manchester City and drawing with Liverpool and now the Red Devils.
It was an uncharacteristic performance from Leeds, with much less of the controlled chaos they like to provoke. There was only one save of note in the whole 90 minutes – Illan Meslier's from a Marcus Rashford free-kick.
Those who watched the games against both Manchester clubs might start to realise there is a bit more about Marcelo Bielsa's team than the lazy stereotypes would have you believe. They are learning on the job too, far more experienced at this Premier League lark than they were on the weekend before Christmas.
If the start of the reverse fixture was frantic in the extreme, Manchester United s first Premier League trip to Elland Road in 18 years was disappointingly subdued.
That battle won – for now at least – the Red Devils did not face the hostility which greeted co-super league conspirators Liverpool on their approach to the ground where it usually comes guaranteed.
With neither side especially vocal and even the excitable director's box, where adopted Yorkshiremen Victor Orta, Angus Kinnear and Andreas Radrizzani sported huge white roses, quiet by its usual standards, you could hear the buzz of a plane overhead protesting against the Glazer family's ownership of the visiting club, the shriek of Rashford when he was fouled by Luke Ayling.
Lambasted in some quarter, praised in others for their openness in the 6-2 December defeat, Leeds could be excused some quiet satisfaction for that.
Leeds probably committed too many fouls in their own third during the first 45 minutes, despite Bielsa's instructions to the contrary, but were not punished for them. For a long time, the most threatening the Red Devils were from one was when a Bruno Fernandes delivery hit Harry Maguire and ricocheted wide.
Leeds tightened up in that regard after half-time.
The visitors were looking for Victor Lindelof to release Rashford, running in off the left, with long balls but he hit a weak shot from the first. When the central defender looked for Maguire in the 29th minute, Patrick Bamford was alive to it, cutting out the pass, only for Stuart Dallas to disappointingly overhit his ball out to Jack Harrison.
Counter-attacks down the left wing looked Leeds's best opening, Harrison having earlier found some space there when Aaron Wan-Bissaka was caught upfield. His chipped cross struck Luke Shaw's arm, perhaps trailing a fraction behind his body.
Handball calls by video assistant referees have become an absolute lottery this season, and Mike Dean did not draw Leeds's number.
Ayling and Tyler Roberts were booked in quick succession for fouls deep in Leeds territory but it was a Kalvin Phillips foul on Fernandes that Rashford hit a free-kick Meslier stretched his left hand out well to tip over, Maguire heading wide from the corner.
Manchester United's front four were particularly fluid after the restart, but it did not always work to their favour. In the 50th minute left-winger Rashford played the ball from the right, Bradfordian Greenwood dropped into the hole and Fernandes and Dan James got in each other's way trying to play centre-forward.
As against the other Manchester club, Leeds were selective in their counter-attacks but they almost made one count after 55 minutes, Dallas chipping a clever pass to Helder Costa – switched to the left for the second half – but no one was able to get on the end of the drilled cross.
When Wan-Bissaka produced some brilliance near the byline, Fernandes shot poorly wide. His opposite number Ayling would show he was capable of it too, but the move ended in Greenwood shooting tamely at Meslier as the game started to slowly open up.
Meslier saved when Fred picked out Greenwood – Mason again, Sam was an unused substitute for Leeds – and Ezgjan Alioski produced an excellent tackle when Rashford found James after playing in behind. The Macedonian, learning on the job as a left-back, would also deny Greenwood with a late block.
A good advantage by Craig Pawson with 15 minutes left was not taken by substitute Mateusz Klich, who shot at Dean Henderson, as did Ayling.
Neither side really did enough to earn victory, or deserved to lose.
Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Alioski; Phillips; Costa (Klich 73), Dallas, Roberts (Koch 77), Harrison (Poveda 68); Bamford.
Unused substitutes: Casilla, Hernandez, Berardi, Summerville, Greenwood, Shackleton.
Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred (van de Beek 89); Rashford (Cavani 86), Fernandes, James (Pogba 76); Greenwood.
Unused substitutes: de Gea, Bailly, Mata, Telles, Matic, Tuanzebe.
Referee: C Pawson (South Yorkshire).
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