If there’s one thing life post-Sir Alex Ferguson has taught United fans, it’s never to take even the most winnable of games for granted, especially on an opening day fixture. We can all remember the pre-season hype that came with Louis van Gaal’s appointment and impressive run of friendly wins, only to see any excitement become obliterated as Swansea came to Old Trafford and turned over a hapless United side.
A home game against Leicester City, looks relatively easy on paper, but this is United we’re talking about, the same team that lost to the likes of Brighton, Huddersfield and Sevilla last season. Friday night’s 2-1 victory over the former Premier League champions certainly doesn’t mean United are ready to make it number 21 but what exactly does it mean? Here’s five things we can see from the win.
1. Right said Fred.
Okay so it’s one competitive game for the Reds, against a mid-table team, at home. But let’s not quibble over frivolities such as the standard of opposition or the occasion, this was a very assured performance by United’s one big money summer signing and gave the fans reasons to be cheerful. Fred was far from perfect but he looked confident on the ball, was willing to get stuck in and worked well alongside Andreas Pereira and Paul Pogba. United may not have signed much this season, but we seemed to have signed well.
2. Master Luke.
While his former England team mates were busy being lauded for epic wins over the likes of Panama, Sweden and Tunisia, Luke Shaw was being compared to James Corden on social media. Thankfully the former Southampton defender put such a heinous travesty behind him and got himself in shape for the season – and it shows. Not only did Shaw put in a performance that had his nemesis, sorry his manager cooing, he bagged a vital goal that gave United all three points. Hurrah.
3. The jury remains out on Alexis.
When Alexis Sanchez signed for United it represented something of a coup for the Reds, as not only had we snagged one of our rival’s best players we’d also done it from under the noses of Manchester City. However, fast forward seven months and any piano accompanied excitement has quickly gone off key as Sanchez continues to cut a frustrated figure. Friday was the Chilean’s worst-ever performance in a United shirt, despite having his first summer break in years. Sanchez gave the ball away constantly and while it’s easy to make excuses – mainly that he’s trying to make things happen and still settling in, both of them are running a bit thin.
4. There’s only one Pereira.
And it’s Andreas. While Joel went out on loan Andreas didn’t and thank goodness Jose Mourinho kept him at the club as the midfielder was one of United’s best players on Friday night, slotting into the deeper central role he’d shone in during the summer. Mourinho was quick to point out that Pereira was playing in a relatively new role – until pre-season he’d been used further up the pitch – yet looked liked he’d been there for years. Matic will undoubtedly regain his place when fully fit, but I for one wouldn’t mind seeing more of Andreas.
5. Captain Paul hasn’t ended the saga.
At around 8.03 pm when Paul Pogba, wearing the captain’s armband confidently smashed home a penalty to give United the lead, the entire drama of whether he was happy at the club seemed to be put to bed. Fast forward two hours and it was on again as cryptic tweets and a post-match interview full of negative innuendo makes it seem as though all still isn’t rosy between Jose and his star player.