This is how we all had dreamed things would be when we learned Louis Van Gaal was hired to become the next manager following the departure of David Moyes. A star studded lineup, filled with quick passing and pace and attacking from every corner imaginable. Van Gaal warned the fans, it will take time. Even after a successful pre-season campaign, Van Gaal told fans to prepare for bumps in the road. He suggested it would take three months for his puzzle to take shape. It was against a weak side in Queens Park Rangers, who also allowed a 4-spot against Tottenham. None of the less, this was the United we all knew and loved.
Angel Di Maria began the scoring. Wayne Rooney, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata followed in a 4-nil victory in front of a festive Old Trafford crowd that reminded fans of the glory days. It wasn’t all bad under Moyes, he had his high moments as well, but it was never at a peak as it was Sunday. The crowd knew they were watching a show. Di Angel was flying. Mata, Daley Blind and Herrera were confusing the QPR defence with their witty passing and movement.
On the pessimistic side, fans need to realise this was against a weak opponent. QPR are tied with Burnley with least league goals with one. They now have the leagues worst goal differential, a gut-wrenching -8 after only four match days. Tougher opponents are ahead. Quite frankly, anyone else they play this season will posses a harsher task then QPR did. On the optimistic side, nobody at United will admit they are satisfied with just this win. They know they need to get better and keep improving. Van Gaal was quick to remind the media after the match saying they still have much room to improve. If Van Gaal can have them improve on how they played on Sunday, this team could be scary good. And just wait until Van Gaal hits Radamel Falcao into the squad.
Now, let’s take a look at this weeks winners and losers.
WINNER: Angel Di Maria
The star of the show. Di Maria was buzzin’ all match long in his Old Trafford debut. He spoke very highly all week about he wanted to be part of the solution that fixes and brings glory back to Manchester United. After a uneventful debut two weeks ago, Di Maria was great against QPR. Scoring the opening goal. Moments later created the entire play that eventually was Herrera’s goal, as he raced down the left wing as Ryan Giggs did so many times in the past, and then assisted on Juan Mata’s goal with a pass that to the naked eye could have appeared as a shot. A missile pass that nobody had a chance to stop before it got to Mata. Just a sense of the talent level and vision he brings to the team. Di Maria did a fantastic job interchanging the entire match. Attacking on the left, then on the right. Before you knew it, he was back on the left. QPR had no ways to control him.
LOSER: Adnan Januzaj
No matter how many stars Van Gaal brings in, they will still only be able to play with eleven players and use just one ball. Having too many stars is a good things. That is what separates great managers from good managers. It’s a good problem to have. Form usually dictates and makes decisions easier to figure out. Against QPR, United was firing away at all cylinders. While it was fun for the fans, some players will suffer. In this case, Adnan Januzaj. The 21-year old only saw a handful of minutes. And that came because the score was so lopsided. With Mata fitting in and playing great, it’s unlikely he will be sitting too much once they figure out a plan for Falcao. As long as Mata plays well, the deeper the hole builds for Januzaj, who is fresh of having the #11 shirt awarded to him. Competition has never hurt anyone and Januzaj is about to find out, when he plays, every minute will count as he doesn’t know the next time he will get to play.
WINNER: Rio Ferdinand
Ferdinand didn’t leave on the best of terms. He didn’t have the farewell as many before him after a very glorious 12-year career with Manchester United. Ferdinand left on bad terms. Moments after his departure, he changed his twitter avatar and profile, and deleted anything and everything that had to do with Manchester United. Now, with QPR, Ferdinand made his return. Prior to the match, fans gave Rio a great ovation. And United had Sir Bobby Charlton present him with a picture book of Rio’s 12-year career with United as the entire squad stood near the centre circle applauding. A very classy gesture and a nice closure to what was a incredible career. Ferdinand said after the match he was over whelmed and honoured by the support.
LOSER: Tyler Blackett
If you have been reading my writing on United Ramble, you know I am a big fan of Blackett. I think his future is very high and for him to be playing with such stars now must be a complete shock to the youngster, who made a name for himself in pre-season and separated himself from the others academy players looking to scratch and crawl for playing time. New addition Marcos Rojo looked solid in his United debut and comfortable bringing the ball up. And Jonny Evans seems healthy again. Blackett remained in the starting lineup due to an injury to Phil Jones who has to this point been United’s top performer. United wasn’t tested much, but after a gaffe by David De Gea gave QPR what seemed like an open-net. As the attacked went past De Gea and made his attempt to what seemed like a sure-goal, Evans got there just in time to clear it off the goal-line, saving United a 0-1 deficit. With Jones return being imminent, it is hard to foresee either Rojo or Evans sitting. Blackett has played well, and his future remains bright, but he just won’t be able to beat the numbers game. Not yet, atleast.
WINNER: Juan Mata
Between the two week break since the transfer window closed and United signed Radamel Falcao and the QPR match, i may have seen over 50 fan-submitted lineups that they would use if they were in charge. The most common theme in most: No Mata. The man who once was one of the best players on a stacked Chelsea team seems to be losing his spot with United as well, less then a year after his arrival. But Mata came to play on Sunday. Showed good pace, added a goal and an assist and was a 98% passing accuracy on 43 passes. Mata looked to have excellent chemistry with Herrera and Di Maria. It was only one game, but one has to wonder if they new additions will also give more space and time for Mata and excel in his own game as well?
STAT THAT I LIKED….. Daley Blind completed 107 passes, more then any other player in the match.
STAT THAT I DIDN’T LIKE…. David De Gea 71% passing accuracy on just 17 pass attempts.
STAT THAT I REALLY LIKED…. Wayne Rooney’s goal was his 175th, moving him to 3rd place of all time in the Premier League, tied with Thierry Henry.
MOST IMPRESSIVE STAT…. With the score still 0-0, United had a 74-26% possession advantage after 30 minutes.
NEWCOMERS CAME TO PLAY… Di Maria, Rojo, Blind, Falcao and Herrera combined to complete 335 passes, created 9 chances, scored a goal and added an assist.
MAN OF THE MATCH…. Angel Di Maria
UP NEXT….. Sunday @ Leicester City