Thursday, 14 July 2011

United vs New England Revolution - Post match thoughts

Manchester United kicked off their United States tour with a comfortable 4-1 victory over New England Revolution in front of a capacity 51,000 crowd.

Sir Alex picked a strong first XI and was able to give plenty of the squad a run out over the course of the game. The first half was a tight affair as United looked to find their rhythm. Carrick and Anderson looked sharp in midfield and debutant Ashley Young saw plenty of ball on the left flank.

The game burst into life after half time following the introduction of Owen and Macheda up front amongst others. The former England marksman notched the first goal of pre-season after a fine through ball from the impressive Carrick. Owen raced clear before sliding the ball past the dive of the keeper. Macheda doubled the tourists lead with a comfortable left foot finish after he and Carrick had broken the inept New England offside line. The home side did manage a rare excursion into United territory soon after and fortuitously found the net from a deflected free kick on the edge of the area.

No sooner had United's lead been halved that they restored a two goal cushion when Macheda found space in the box following a corner to fire confidently home. The scoring was wrapped up with the goal of the night by Park following neat inter-play from Obertan, Giggs and the South Korean led to a deft chip over the advancing keeper.

Overall, a great start to pre-season with plenty of minutes under the belt for the United squad to send the large crowd home happy with the performance of the visitors.

To watch highlights of the game, please see the video below:  

Here are a few talking points to arise out of the game:

Ashley Young - right footed left winger?
The former Aston Villa man made his United debut last night and can be satisfied with his overall performance primarily appearing on the left wing. A possible issue with Young is his propensity to cut back onto his favoured right foot continually to deliver crosses when the option to go with his left foot would sometimes be more effective and would help keep his full back guessing. He showed that he does have ability in his left foot in the second half when an inch perfect cross found Macheda in space but the Italian failed to find the target. If Young can find a balance then he will be a welcome addition to the squad and help to increase the threat offered down either flank. Although he was often played in a central role at Villa last season, he seems likely to be given a wide role this campaign although this will be flexible as he can inter-change with the likes of Rooney and Nani as the game progresses.

Kiko Macheda - a mature Italian
Macheda makes an early impression (picture courtesy of The Telegraph)
Although he only played 45 minutes last night, the young Italian did enough to suggest that he has matured during his unsuccessful loan spell at Sampdoria to an extent that he could be a fixture in the United squad for the upcoming season. It was especially impressive to hear his post match interview in which he spoke eloquently and maturely about the realisation that he is part of the best club in the world and that there is no substitute for hard work in order to succeed. It has been rumoured that he had lost a little focus recently and a tough loan spell has apparently crystalised his views about his position and he has returned hungry and ready to work hard. His two finishes last night were clinically executed into the corner while his all round team play looked impressive. To be fair, Macheda has looked promising in pre-season before and one swallow does not make a summer but the signs are positive. If he can continue this work ethic throughout the close season then he will give the manager a headache when it comes to team selection.

Rafael & Fabio - similar in every respect
The Brazilian twins were on show last night filling the full back berths once more with their usual verve and effervescence much to the delight of the large crowd. Both were equally adept in a defensive and attacking sense against New England as they supported their respective winger with overlapping runs and lively movement. The other positive is that they both lasted the full 90 minutes which will do them the world of good in terms of match fitness and also confidence that they can survive the intensity of matches rather than pick up a knock which has become a worrying tendency throughout their United careers. Both are capable of playing in several positions and with the loss of John O'Shea, it could well transpire that they are seen as a versatile option at certain times during the season when the need arises. 

Competition up front - 7 into 5 does not go
Looking at the current make up of the squad shows that United currently have seven forwards at their disposal. While it is always nice to have options, this situation is not practical going into the new season using up valuable squad places. It is therefore effectively a pre-season shoot out between Macheda, Welbeck and Diouf as to who accompanies Rooney, Berbatov, Hernández and Owen on the roster. Many would see Diouf as a certain fall guy from this list after an average season with Blackburn but the manager clearly sees something in him to afford him a space on tour. Danny Welbeck will join up next week after his exploits in the U21 competition this summer and must hit the ground running to catch up with Macheda in terms of fitness and performance. He had a sound loan spell with Sunderland and the thought was he would be a fixture in the squad for the new season. Although he can play wide, this does not show him off in his best light and he may struggle for games if he stays. I could therefore see another Premier League loan for the young Englishman but this time perhaps under the guidance of Owen Coyle at Bolton who nurtured the talents of Daniel Sturridge in the last campaign.

Other notable performances
Anders Lindegaard was chosen between the posts and once more demonstrated his composure and confidence in all he was asked to do. His ability with the ball at his feet is impressive and in stark contrast to his predecessor Kuszczak who spread panic through the veins of the men in front of him. It is easy to forget that Lindegaard is the current Danish first choice and they have a rich heritage of impressive custodians that he is looking to emulate. He may well have a key role to play this year as David de Gea settles into the club and the English footballing culture in general. There will be times, one imagines, that the boss will look to rest the young Spaniard and Lindegaard must be ready to grasp the opportunity and in his brief United career, he has done nothing to suggest this will not be the case.

This is a big season for Jonny Evans after a patchy one last time out. With the arrival of Phil Jones at the club to add competition across the back four, the Northern Irishman will look to hit form early in order to secure a place at the forefront of the manager's thoughts. With the departures of O'Shea and Brown and the retirement of Neville, the full back berths are currently only covered by Evra and the Da Silva twins so Evans may well get plenty of game time in his regular international role of left back. Ferguson clearly sees Smalling, Jones and Evans as the three finest young centre backs in the country and all three must take every opportunity while it exists to learn from Ferdinand and Vidic as they look to develop the art of defending.

United's next game is against Seattle next Thursday at 3am UK time. We will have further analysis of the game last night in our new feature "The Scouting Report" in the next few days.

What did you think of United's performance against New England Revolution? Which players stood out for you? Please leave your comments below.

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  1. Great for Kiko and somewhat promising from Young. I was impressed by the Da Silva twins' tackling in this match, and Owen looked sharp. I don't think he had a misplaced pass all night...

  2. Thanks for commenting. The twins looked sharp and eager as usual and great for Owen and Kiko to get some goals under their belt early for confidence etc

  3. Great post James ;)

    I am really excited following the likes of Wellbeck, Cleverley, Anderson, Evans and Kiko stating their claim for a first team spot.