A week has gone by since United have come back from their US tour, and though in that time they only played one game, the friendly against Valencia, enough happened off the pitch to keep most of us occupied and preoccupied until the new Premier League season kicks off in just a few days.
Let’s start with a quick recap of United’s first appearance at Old Trafford this season. In a somewhat subdued first half, United got what seemed like a soft penalty after half an hour, but couldn’t capitalise as Rooney hit the post from the spot. For some reason many of us were not surprised, as his spot-kick scoring record isn’t exactly good (I think his conversion rate is about two thirds of all penalties taken for United). I’m sure he had said he was going to give taking penalties up after missing one over a season ago, so he probably won’t be taking them again anytime soon.
Soon after the second half started, vice-captain (more of that later) Darren Fletcher put United in the lead with a deflected shot from just outside the area. Valencia equalised through Rodrigo, and when the game looked like it would end in a 1-1 draw, Fellaini scored with seconds to spare to make sure Van Gaal starts his Old Trafford reign with a win, making it seven out of seven victories in pre-season.
Unfortunately, the main talking point from this game was the jeering of Fellaini. We usually laugh at other clubs for booing their own players, yet we seem to be falling into the same category now. A friend who is a season-ticket holder of many years tried to have a word with someone who kept booing his every touch, to which his reply was “but it’s funny.” Luckily enough for him and others having a go at one of our own players, they had left the stadium when Fellaini got the winner or they’d have been eating humble pie even before the season starts. It was also excellent to see how the other players celebrated with him after scoring, hopefully showing that the team is more united than some of our fans are sometimes.
Now, I’m not saying that the Belgian midfielder is a good enough player for United, but what’s the point of going to a stadium if you’re not going to support your team? We backed Moyes last season, even when things were VERY desperate, so why not a footballer that might still come good under a new manager (if he stays)?
Onto the captaincy. It was the BIG announcement that nobody was waiting for, but many were sort of expecting. Personally, I wouldn’t have given it to Rooney, as I’ve already said in the past, simply because I believe that others can do a better job at skippering the side. Having said that, three of those more capable have left (Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra), and Rooney is one of the longest serving players at the club. A lot of us would have wanted Fletcher to wear the armband as he’s another stalwart who wears his heart on his sleeve, but he probably won’t be playing in all the games, so making him vice-captain is excellent in itself after what our own Football Genius has been through. I only hope that being captain doesn’t mean that Rooney won’t be taken off if he’s having a stinker (I doubt Van Gaal would leave him on the pitch “because of what the fans might think”). As we’ve done in the past, we should trust the manager on this one, especially as he seems to know what he’s doing.
Another thing said in the past week was that by the manager of last April’s Champions, L’pool. Brendan Rodgers thought he’d be ‘helpful’ by warning Van Gaal that the English League is a lot harder than many think, and it won’t be easy for our manager to succeed quickly. Pity he didn’t tell City’s Manuel Pellegrini that last season, who won the title AND the League Cup in his first season in charge.
Looking ahead, the new season is upon us, and we’re all looking ahead with great amounts of optimism, even with just Herrera and Shaw added to the squad so far.
I’m sure that Van Gaal will have new players come in before the transfer window closes, but even on the remote chance that he doesn’t, I think United are strong enough to have a tilt at third place (I think that City and Chelsea are much stronger right now), as we’re at least as good as Arsenal, and better than the other squads in the league.
With a little bit of luck and Dutch spirit from the new manager, we might just give it our best shot and fight for the title too.
You never know, we might be the first club to win the league after finishing seventh the season before, something L’pool fans kept ramming down everyone’s throats a few months ago, before their captain slipped against Chelsea.
First things first, and it’s Swansea at Old Trafford on Saturday, in a game that kicks off at 12:45pm UK time. Though the Welsh side will be up for this game as they’ll also be full of optimism for the new season, United should prove too strong (and hopefully too good) for them as they’re a side that will have done very well if they finish in mid-table this season.
Whatever happens, seems like this season will be much more entertaining than the last one (though that shouldn’t be difficult).
So get your voices ready, and wherever you will be on the day United play, SUPPORT the team AND all those who wear the United shirt with all your might… COME ON UNITED!!!