Where do you start? ‘Not a bad goal, I think,’ said the manager. He was understating it, deliberately of course, but that tremendous contribution has instantly changed the perception from concern about the fee to excitement about what we might see in future.
Federico Macheda is still so fresh in the memory that United fans will be loathe to get carried away but the execution in the goal was so wonderful that perhaps that excitement is justified. And in the heat of the moment, why not?
He bossed midfield to the extent that in the last minutes he was chasing down and making a tackle; a thumb in the face of those who suggested his injuries would mean he couldn’t adjust to the pace of the Premier League.
Given, this wasn’t the most intensely fought United and Liverpool game, but Schweinsteiger assumed the role of senior midfielder (alongside the also impressive Carrick) in a manner that suggested he had been there for years. Maybe truer tests are to follow against Chelsea, Arsenal and City’s midfield, but again, why not be excited?
Leading the Blind
He received criticism after the Swansea game. And rightly so. But credit where credit is due – he responded in fantastic fashion, being the best of an impressive defence (is it already old news to laud Darmian?) and crowning his performance with an outstanding controlled strike.
We said before the doubtful display in Wales that Rojo would have a job on to get back in the side and that’s surely the case again.
Helpless for the goal – two tremendous saves at full stretch (there will be suggestions that these were camera saves, but watch them again – that extension of the frame was required) exhibited the flexibility that Sergio Romero doesn’t have in his locker.
It feels good to have him back.
Manager gets it right
A cursory glance on social media at half time did not present an encouraging view of the support Louis van Gaal declared he had in Friday’s press conference.
Some even suggested that the football was a betrayal to the club’s history but let’s put this into perspective. United were by far the better team in the first half. We can – and should, let’s not shy away – criticize the manager for the state of the squad at this point. But let’s not pointlessly have a go at him for selecting the team he does with those players he has available.
Fellaini may not have been the best option from the start but it was preferable to throwing in Martial into the deep end without witnessing the speed of English football, particularly with the usual frenetic energy of this fixture. And could he have put James Wilson in there when Fellaini was an option?
The issue with starting with option B is that it makes the substitutes difficult. Fellaini becomes a player you can’t take off if you’re struggling to score; United didn’t have that issue, but couldn’t bring him off as the game wasn’t secure. So, it was bold to admit that bringing off Depay was a tactical move (though you get the feeling the manager would have admitted it anyway) – it paid off immediately, with Young being a little more direct than the Dutch forward had been. An important lesson for the former PSV man, perhaps?
It was also a move not without risk to bring on Martial at the time he did.
So, does the manager deserve credit? Yes. There was some dissent after the Newcastle game but let’s be fair – those games happen. You can only face what’s in front of you and United dominated again today without threatening, as Liverpool played for a draw. The first goal was vital and opened the game up.
It’s still a work in progress. It’s too soon to be too harsh on the manager – particularly when you throw all your eggs in the ‘#LVGout’ basket before the game is even done. The football could be better but there are signs of progress in a more competitive league and surely the games so far this season have proven that it takes two to tango.
De Gea – 6
Darmian – 8
United – possession 56%, shots 9, on target 3
Shots – Young 3
Key Passes – Mata 2
Dribbles – Schweinsteiger 3
Tackles: Blind, Schweinsteiger 4
Interceptions: Carrick, Schweinsteiger 3
Clearances: Blind 9, Smalling 5