1) De Gea – match winning goalkeeper
The only regular starter to come out of last season with any credit, he saved us many times from drawing or losing. At the end of last season his efforts were recognised by both the players and the fans as he picked up both first team awards.
He had struggled in my opinion prior to today’s game, I don’t think any of the goals could really be blamed on him but his indecisiveness and positioning had contributed to nervousness in defence. A 3rd different goalkeeping coach in 3 seasons has arrived, De Gea has recently spoken of it being “a new way of training” which may not have helped him so far this season.
On Sunday, in his 100th Premier League game (139th in total) he put in a man of the match display which ensured we won the game. At the end of the game, I thought about what Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher said last Monday about Liverpool’s Mignolet not making match winning contributions for Liverpool last season and this season, and while I hope we do not have to rely on De Gea every week, it’s nice to know we have a keeper who can make those match winning contributions when called upon.
2) Di Maria shines again
During the early stages of the World Cup in the summer, I made a comment on twitter; “Di Maria is one of my favourite players outside United right now”, little did I know he’d be a United player just 2 months later.
After 5 games Di Maria has 3 goals and 3 assists to his name, his contribution in attack has been fantastic and played a big part in our victory over Everton with him scoring the opener and then the assist for Falcao’s winner which was probably a scuffed shot, but he’s done it twice now, and the more it happens the more it starts to look intentional. His work off the ball is also admirable; he works very hard for the team where as other big money signings in the league tend to look uninterested when the opposition have the ball. Every time he gets the ball there’s a sense of expectation that he’ll do something fantastic, something we’ve perhaps not experienced from a United player since Ronaldo was at the club. He’s been excellent so far but I still think he can improve which is fantastic to think about.
3) First of many for Falcao
Falcao arrived with a reputation as one of the best goalscorers in World football but he was also just back from a long term injury that meant he missed out on going to the World Cup with Colombia during the summer.
Prior to his goal against Everton, he looked like he was trying to force the issue of scoring and he was snatching a bit when he was presented with chances. The good thing was that he was getting those chances thought and it was only a matter of time that he would stick one away. Despite the lack of goals he was showing very positive signs in the rest of his game, his movement upfront had been excellent and he had created 2 goals but you could tell the lack of goals was playing on his mind a bit and when he put the winner in the back of the net yesterday, the frustration that had built up came out in his celebration. He is a player who can score with his left or right foot and despite not being the biggest, he’s very good in the air too. Now he has one, he hopefully won’t stop scoring.
4) The kids are alright
When Danny Welbeck was sold to Arsenal on deadline day there were cries from many that United had given up on youth. So far though van Gaal has given 7 youth players their debut, the club record in a season is 8. People will point to injuries as to why the young players have been getting those chances this season but in recent seasons we’d have played more experienced players out of position rather than promote a youth player to play in his natural position.
In the build up to the game, there was a worry that Lukaku would bully McNair but he was hardly seen during the game. Despite his handling of Lukaku and the last ditch header last week, it is his composure on the ball that has impressed me most, especially when so far this season we’ve watched on as the senior CB’s; Smalling, Jones and Evans have all looked uncomfortable at times in possession. Similarly with Blackett, despite a fantastic block to deny Everton a goal, his composure and passing is what has stood out. They have done the club’s academy proud and are a great example to their U21 team mates and the younger players hoping to breakthrough in coming years.
5) The game lasts 90 minutes, not 60!
A theme has started to develop in our matches this season, it’s become noticeable that we don’t play so well after 60 minutes or so. Falcao’s goal yesterday was the first goal we have scored after 60 minutes this season although it came just 2 minutes after the 60 minute mark, it was also our last shot in the match. It’s a worry because we won’t be able to hang on every week like we’ve done in the past 2 weeks and we won’t be able to kill the game off within 60 minutes every week like we did against QPR. The good thing is we’ve shown a real desire to see game’s out since throwing the Leicester game away, a winning mentality is returning and Old Trafford is slowly becoming a place where it’s hard to get a point out of the game. It’s also good that van Gaal has recognised the issue, hopefully we’ll be able to perform for 90 minutes against West Brom in 2 weeks time rather than just 60 minutes.