Manchester United started the Premier League 2015 season with a dreary and narrow win, all thanks to Kyle Walker’s 22nd minute own goal.
After a combined £83.1m recruitment drive and a comprehensive pre-season campaign, the new look Manchester United started their campaign at Old Trafford against Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham. Louis Van Gaal’s gave debuts to four of the five recruits with Morgan Schneiderlin paired with Carrick in midfield, and young starlet Memphis Depay spearheading the attack alongside Wayne Rooney.
United’s Italian acquisition Matteo Darmianstarted at right-back and put in a stellar performance and combined beautifully with Juan Mata. Argentinian Romero was in goal in place of De Gea who isn’t favored by the Dutchman as he’s “not capable” of playing amidst the rising speculation that he wants to join Real Madrid.
Tottenham – livelier of the two sides
The Londoners started the better team, mounting early pressure with Christian Eriksen lobbing over the bar after being played clean through much to the relief of the Stretford End. Harry Kane- spearheading the Spurs attack saw a shot deflected wide, with Chris Smalling having the job of keeping the English striker at bay. Romero was called into action early on with a smart block after a good run by Spurs full back Kyle Walker.
An own goal starts the new campaign
Little did Kyle Walker realize that he would be involved in adding a goal at the other end! Nabil Bentaleb was the culprit as his clumsy pass was intercepted and United launched a rapid counter-attack with Mata and Depay getting involved. Young’s grounded cross found Rooney in a goal scoring opportunity but an extra touch allowed Walker to get to the ball, but he unknowingly managed to beat the United skipper to the ball and it prodded past the outstretched arms of Michael Vorm. United managed to find some spark in their forward play after the goal with Mata and Memphis having their shots blocked by the Spurs’ backline.
Bastian Schweinstieger introduced to Manchester United Fans
United continued from where they left at the end of the first half, carrying the greater threat with Young having two good chances to score early on. There was a loud roar as German and former Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinstieger was introduced to the Old Trafford faithful in the 60th minute. Bastain who has been touted as the long time replacement of the legendary Paul Scholes started in typical Scholes-like fashion getting booked for an early challenge.
Spurs mounting some late pressure
With 10 minutes of play remaining United were again brought out of the comfort zone with a late Spurs rally. Smalling produced a gem of a tackle to dispossess NacerChadli and Romero pulled off a fine save to frustrate Ericksen- after earlier having tipped away Kane’s looping header. Louis Van Gaal’s men held on despite having to deal with a flurry of dangerous crosses into the 18 yard area. The strains of the first competitive match were clearly evident on the players as United fans were happy to start of their campaign on a winning note.
Man of the Match- Matteo Darmian
Matteo Darmian was one of the stand-out performers in United’s opening league campaign with a confident display at right-back. He wasn’t afraid to tread forward and linked up with Juan Mata, providing him adequate support down the right flank. He earned praise of his manager with Louis Van Gaal, “I liked the performance of Matteo Darmian. He played a good match in the Spurs half and when they had the ball, plus he didn’t lose the ball much and was very good in his ball position with the opponent. When I have to think of one player, it’s him, as he was the best performer.” Chris Smalling also rose to the occasion and kept Spurs front man Harry Kane at bay with a rock solid performance. Morgan Schneiderlin played an influential role in the centre of the park and pressed the Spurs midfield on the back-foot.
Argentinian keeper Romero who has only 13 games under his belt across 2 seasons, came in without a pre-season under his belt put in a positive display, but can improve on his distribution. United’s goal keeping issues aren’t looking settled and it could have to wait until Deadline Day for De Gea’s fate to be finally decided. Depay’s debut was reminiscent of that of United legend Cristiano Ronaldo with him being eager to get on the ball and made the most sprints made by players at Old Trafford with 42 touches.
United’s Dutch manager still has a few issues to sort out despite the victory at Old Trafford with one of them being getting his midfielders to gel properly and dictate play. With Barcelona winger Pedro being strongly linked with a move to the club, there is still sometime for the sparkling dew drops to settle down on the United pitch.