By Nathan Thomas.
1. Young a shrewd purchase
News of the impending signing of Ashley Young was greeted with relative surprise from many Reds, he has ability yes and was clearly the stand out player at Aston Villa but was this just a case of a big fish in small pond? After being torn apart from Barcelona at Wembley in May the twenty-six year old England International was possibly not the name many United fans were hoping for, was he an improvement on what we already had? Well, albeit being early in the season the signs are extremely positive; Young was brilliant against West Brom a constant thorn in the Baggies side and always an outlet on the left outshining Nani who impressed against City in the Community Shield last week. Manchester United now have an impressive array of wingers with Nani, Valencia and Park to add to Young and it appears Sir Alex has now decided to revert back to the classic out and out wingers playing left and right which hark back to the days of Kanchelskis, Giggs and Sharpe. His movement is impressive and his decision making is spot on as we saw him take a key part in both United goals, he looks to be a terrific purchase and as he showed at the Hawthorns he will win games for United this season.
2. Question marks still remain over number one spot
Okay look, David De Gea has played two games and yes they are two games he would probably rather forget but we must not jump on his back and make things doubly worse for him. This guy is clearly a talent his composure on the ball belies his twenty years and he has excellent distribution along with possessing a talent for close range shot stopping. However, the goals he has conceded for United so far have all been avoidable particularly the second against City and the goal for West Brom. What the mistakes are down to is anybody’s guess, nerves, poor communication, freak mistake, it could be any of these however the question now is does Ferguson stick or twist. De Gea is clearly seen as the long term Man United number one however he is very young and very inexperienced so would it be worth considering giving Lindegaard a few games in goal whilst De Gea plays in the reserves and acclimatises to the English game, the English lifestyle. It is surely an option Ferguson is considering however one I doubt he will put into action, De Gea’s mistakes will be the focus of the fickle press tomorrow morning however one must remember he has made some very important saves in both of his games so far and surely more game time will improve his all round game. It is an intriguing conundrum and Ferguson needs to be ruthless as he cannot risk goalkeeping errors being the weak point in the United setup. Sir Alex was bullish in his post- match interview however saying that this was a ‘welcome to English football’ for De Gea and all but confirmed he would be staying between the sticks
3. Is Rio on borrowed time?
Both United’s first choice centre halves limped off the field of play at the Hawthorns, according to Sir Alex Vidic possibly faces a couple of weeks out but his knock does not look serious, he may face a short time on the sidelines however I would imagine he will be back in the line-up very soon; Ferdinand on the other hand presents an entirely different proposition. Injured on and off since pulling muscles in his back during the Club World Cup in Japan in 2008 the worrying trend continued midway through the second half when Ferdinand pulled up after chasing Tchoyi down the right wing immediately clutching his hamstring, he faces six weeks out. My instant reaction was to proclaim, ‘I think Rio is on borrowed time’, in hindsight my statement may have been a little hasty however his absence so early in the season is a big blow and the question lingers can United continue to rely on the solid axis of the Ferdinand-Vidic partnership if Ferdinand’s injuries persist. Fortunately United didn’t miss Ferdinand and Vidic with Jones and Evans stepping in seamlessly, however when the serious tests come along later in the season, indeed over the next couple of weeks you want your first choice central defensive partnership. As I have already referred to though United do have ready-made replacements for Ferdinand but whilst he is still around, you want him playing and the question remains how long can he keep that up?
4. Cleverley again shows his class
Lou Macari proclaimed on MUTV that he was ‘Sneijder-ed out’ in other words he is sick of all the speculation linking the seemingly messiah like Dutchman with Old Trafford. Don’t get me wrong Sneijder would be a great acquisition however his arrival seems extremely unlikely, this news was greeted by some fans as the end of the world and many have got into their heads that signing Wesley Sneijder will make or break our season, rubbish. You only needed to watch the first half performance of United’s midfield; periods were stunning, one touch, and quick attacking football with Tom Cleverley again impressing. He was composed, effective and most importantly got the ball forward; he also seems to bringing the best out of Anderson who was abuzz with activity all game but in the first half primarily. Last week Ferguson staunchly nailed his colours to the ‘Youth mast’ and has placed his faith in the burgeoning talents of Cleverley, Pogba, Morrison and Tunnicliffe, Sir Alex has always trusted United’s youth system and I for one am 100% behind him with Cleverley in particular giving proof for that cause having played extremely well in both of his games so far this season. Sneijder is the buzz word amongst United fans at the minute, by Christmas it could well be Sneijder who?
5. Marked improvement shown already on last years away day blues
Last season United had to wait until late October to notch their first away victory, this time it has took them one game and the nervousness and uncertainty that often accompanied United on their travels last season was non-existent, particularly in the first half. The second was disrupted by injuries and a resurgent West Brom due to David De Gea’s goalkeeping error. In truth United could have been out of sight by the time West Brom equalised with Nani the main culprit spurning two very presentable opportunities and United’s slick football would have merited a great goal advantage. Last year many of United’s mere five away wins were scrappy affairs however in the midlands on Sunday the Reds continued their pre-season form, looked confident, composed and above all good enough.
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