Having returned from the game yesterday against Queens Park Rangers, I have a rather warm optimistic glow inside. I have not yet poured over the highlights on tv, it is still fresh in my head, but today was one of those performances that we have grown up on over the last couple of decades. It feels like our season has finally had lift off.
Firstly, yes we came up against a poor QPR side that never got near the ball, did not press united nor fought for every ball. A perfect side to come up against when your blooding several debutants.
Starting with a back four seemed to settle both players and supporters. It just seemed right. United started very well, in fact the first twenty minutes, QPR did not get a sniff. I have not seen the stats but in the first half, it felt like United had 80% possession. United knocked it about with a purpose and what was pleasing was how every player chased back and won the ball back if it had been lost. United`s tempo was good, not dropping off when not in possession, they harried and chased down QPR winning the ball back and turning it back into an attack. Very pleasing to see, something not seen for sometime.
In the first half, debutant Rojo linked up well with his compatriot Di Maria. They clearly have an understanding, one which hopefully will bear fruit throughout the season. Rojo had a steady game. Has pace, willing to go forward and comfortable on the ball. Finally United have some height at left back which has been missing under Evra and Heinze. Tyler Blackett looks very assured for his tender years. Always comfortable on the ball, never rushed, very Rio Ferdinand like at the back. Rafael, back from injury, slotted in and did well, romping down the wing at every opportunity. He could well prosper this season from through balls from the likes of Herrera, Blind and co.
In Daley Blind, United may just have found a major piece of the jigsaw. I could not help but be impressed by his positioning, dropping back to protect the defence if a defender had been caught further upfield. He pushed forward up the pitch, starting many attacks. He read the game superbly. Sensible passing, tough tackling, he looked like he had been playing in a red shirt for a couple of seasons. At £14m he could be the buy of the summer finally filling a gap in midfield we have craved for, for sometime. Later in the game, he slotted into the centre of a back three. Versatile as well as quietly brilliant. My man of the match for he did not put a foot wrong in the whole game.
Blind`s midfield partner was equally comfortable on the ball, always setting attacks, breaking up the oppositions play and capable of a killer pass, Ander Herrera. He looks slight in build, but can handle himself in midfield. A hard worker and deserved his goal. They will come up against much stronger midfields through the season, but especially with Blind, I think he can mix it with the best.
Di Maria was magical, his pace is scary. I could wax lyrical all night about his performance but I would just say that he could be our new Ronaldo. Again, there looks nothing to him compared to the tank that is Valencia, but he glides over the grass, always wanting to turn and face the opposition and take them on. Some of his passes were ridiculously brilliant. A real talent and a ready made one too.
With Mata floating about the pitch, constantly popping up in the right place at the right time and chipping in with goals too, the midfield went through the gears tearing into QPR. It may well be that this season, not one player will get the goals like RVP did two seasons ago but spread throughout maybe four or five each getting double figures.
Today had the same feeling the Norwich game had last season when Giggs took charge. A new chapter, a fresh start. Remember what happened the very next game? Defeat to Sunderland. So hopefully United can build on today, yes the opposition will be better in the coming weeks, but the passing, the chasing back, the pace of which we attacked, the attacking options, the strength on the bench all give us hope that Louis Van Gaal is slowly getting the pieces of his jigsaw together.