As Manchester United registered a 3-1 first leg win over Club Brugge in the Champions League play off at Old Trafford last night, here we list a few talking points from the game.
Memphis has the magic
Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid in the summer of 2009, United have struggled to find a player who is capable of carrying the legacy of their no. 7 shirt, one which was donned by the likes of George Best and David Beckham. Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia and Angel di Maria have all been miserable failures. Last night, however, Old Trafford rose to applaud the young kid who was bought from a record fee this summer. Memphis Depay, scored 2 and set up another goal as he captivated the spectators with a range of skills, passes and above all, confidence in a game as big and crucial as this one. While there is a long, long way to go before Memphis, as he wants to be known, enters the Beckham-Robson-Best category, his hunger and talent that was on show in the game last night might just take him to that level.
Rooney wants to play everywhere
Put Wayne in as a no. 9,and he will want to play the no. 10 role. Put him in the midfield, he will be itching to join the attack. Basically, Rooney wants to be an anchorman, the kind around which you can build a team, the kind who can take a bullet for the side and still come back to lead them. While last night wasn’t really a vintage performance from him, yet some of his touches showed that he is gradually getting back to his best, especially once Chicharito came on to play upfront and he dropped down to support him.
United need a proper striker
Rooney’s versatility also poses a problem— the fact that there is no proper striker at the club, except Javier Hernandez, who cannot be relied over the complete season and James Wilson, who is still a kid and has lot to learn. Hence, the Reds need a proper, reliable, centre forward who can score goals and create spaces with clever runs. Harry Kane, anyone?
Juan Mata needs to take it easy
As of right now, Mata poses more of a tactical threat to Louis van Gaal than a solution. Although he has been shifted to the wide area which isn’t exactly his natural position, yet you would expect a player of his quality to get adjusted to that are and own it. But he failed horribly last night. Not only did he fail to glide in and create chances, but he also gave the ball away too many times last night and also failed to cover for his overlapping fullback Matteo Darmian, who once again had an excellent game. Watch some David Silva videos Juan, and please take it easy!
United’s defence looks really strong now
If the defence was United’s Achilles heel last season, it certainly isn’t anymore. Chris Smalling has put in a very impressive shift in all the 3 games so far, while his centre back partner Daley Blind silently covers up all loose balls and is also a very effective ball playing defender. Van gaal’s philosophy is based on the fact that every attack must be built up from the back, and any loose balls must be recycled and the attack must start again, from the defence. And it is exactly this role that suits Blind so very perfectly.As for Smalling, although he was heavily criticized last season, it seems that he has suddenly matured in the summer, taking up the position of a leader who tackles cleanly, remains vocal and is reads the game very, very well. Besides, Darmian and Luke Shaw, the two fullbacks, both have tons of energy and are never afraid to join the attack or run the pitch down once the ball is lost to support the defence. And as many will point out, United haven’t really faced a top team yet, but once they do, I am pretty sure their defence won’t falter like they did last year.
The combination of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger, United’s “Sch”field, is a treat to the eyes. While Morgan Schneiderlin is the hard tackling kind of midfielder who breaks down attacks and is never caught out of position, Schweinsteiger has the stature of a general in the midfield—- he leads the team in the middle of the park and is always ready to put a shift in.Add Michael Carrick(who surprisingly,had a poor game last night) and Ander Herrera to the fray, and you suddenly have a very potent midfield capable of challenging any kind of opposition, once they settle in completely.
Say Hello to ‘Louis Time’
Referee Deniz Aytekin virtually had the whistle to his lips at United grabbed what must be a crucial third goal. The game had gone beyond the third minute of injury time when Marouane Fellaini rose to give United a two goal-cushion. It was the kind of late intervention United’s ex-legendary manager once mastered. The era of ‘Louis Time’ may be upon us.