1. THE DEFENCE LOOKS SORTED: Prior to the commencement of the season, alot of fuss and concerns were raised on United’s seemingly shaky defence. However, yesterday’s game against Brugge – like the two others in the league- proved that the concerns are overblown and out of place.
United started a back four consisting of Mike Smalling, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw – all four of them had an excellent game except for few blips which is largely inevitable. Smalling showed tenacity, doggedness and coordination required of a center back while Darmian and Shaw combined the effort of breaking attacks on the flanks as well as linking up play with United’s wingers seamlessly. It would have been another clean sheet but for Carrick’s unfortunate own goal.
To put things in a broader context, yesterday’s game was United’s third of the season and they have only conceded once (an own goal). If that’s a bad defence, then we need to look up the definition of ‘bad’.
2. MANCHESTER UNITED MADE GOOD SIGNINGS: Louis Van Gaal voiced the need to make some additions after the end of the previous season, Ed-Woodward got the cue and swinged into action. The result is Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sergio Romero. All five of them were involved in the game and all five of them impressed. Memphis Depay turned out the hero of the night with two goals and an assist while Bastian Schweinsteiger who came on as a second half substitute controlled the game and gave direction to play through his immense quality and wealth of experience. Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian executed their role excellently and Sergio Romero was decent in goal although the sturdy defence ensured he had little to do. The signings not only offer a crucial squad depth but immense quality and character which are core features of a winning team – pretty soon, United may get back to being one.
3. LVG THE GENIUS: Louis Van Gaal’s exploit with Holland in the 2014 world Cup played a crucial role in his appointment as the manager of Manchester United. Good formation and tactics, intelligent reading of the game which resulted into effective substitutions and an imposing character are all things LVG consistently displayed. His first season with United witnessed a bit of that and the game against Brugge suggests that he may have gotten his mojo back.
The god manager made three substitutions and all three of them contributed greatly to the victory.
Schweinsteiger came for Carrick in the second half and he immediately proved effective with well-timed passes and control of the game as well as provision of direction and leadership. Januzaj was submitted for Javier Hernandez who reduced Brugge to ten men (he was the reason Brugge had a man sent off) and he added bite to United’s attack. Most importantly, Marouane Fellaini came on for Wayne Rooney in the dying minutes and he got the goal that ensured United’s victory with a good goal margin and a less difficult second leg.
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