By Imran Kardar
So the seasons finally got underway with United opening the fixtures list with a home game to Spurs and well, let’s just say that it wasn’t vintage Manchester United. The Red Devils started with a 4-2-3-1 formation with DDG having been ruled out until his future isn’t decided Sergio Romero started in goal and made his debut. The remaining squad was as I predicted. United were lucky not to concede in the 5th minute when Eriksen lobbed Sergio Romero and the ball landed on the top of the net. For the first 20 minutes the tempo of play was far too slow with the ball not being fed to the attackers quickly. There was lack of creativity and United seemed happy just to keep the ball and passing it around.
The game picked up after the first goal. United opened up Spurs with some quick first time passing. Mata intercepted a bad pass from Bentaleb and passed forward to Memphis who played the ball wide right to Young. By this time Rooney was unmarked in the box, Young crossed and before Rooney could shoot Kyle Walker tried to toe poke the ball away instead he poked it straight past the keeper in to goal. First goal of the season an own goal, whoever bet on that must have made some good money!
The remainder of the half saw United build some confidence and pass the ball with more purpose. A free kick was awarded to United in a decent spot however Mata pulled the seniority card and we couldn’t see Memphis take one of his trademark free kicks. The first half ended 1-0 with Matteo Darmian probably being the best player on the pitch.
The second half was rather uneventful and quite boring. Tempo was again slow from United, possession started to increase but still United lacked that creativity to create genuine chances. Carrick was subbed on the 60th minute mark and in came the player 75,000+ wanted to see in the red of Manchester United, Bastian Schweinsteiger. Memphis was taken off next with Herrera coming on. Still United seemed happy just to keep hold and pass the ball around. There wasn’t much purpose from Spurs either with the United defense and Smalling in particular doing a great job on Harry Kane. Matteo Darmian was subbed on the 80th minute for Valencia and the young Italian got a standing ovation from the crowd. And as soon as Valencia took up the right back position, Spurs found him out of position with an attack that almost led to a goal, again Smalling to the rescue. The full time whistle sounded soon after and United had managed the bag 3 points on the opening day.
I for one thought that United were below average today. There was a severe lack of creativity, passing was slow, and tempo of the game was also pedestrian. United never got out of 2nd gear in the entire game. I was particularly disappointed with Memphis’s performance on the day. Yes, it was his first game and there must have been nerves but I thought he would do better. LVG can be blamed for that as well having played him in behind Rooney instead of his favored left wing. United fans will allow for the performance being his first however, not many will be pleased if he continues to play like today.
I was most pleased with three players namely Darmian, Smalling and Romero. My man of the match was Darmian. The Italian was up and down the right touchline, defending well when the need arouse and joined in attack and provided an option out wide. Smalling also had a great game; he was composed and managed the defense and last season’s star striker Harry Kane very well. Romero made some good, routine saves.
All in all, I’d give United a 6/10 on the performance. A friend of mine says that it’s the points that count and by that United managed 3 points but being a United fan we expect a certain level of performance and United seem pretty far away from it. Good start to the season, 3 points in the bag, let’s build on this for the future games! Glory, Glory Man United!