Lessons Learned: Man United 2-1 West Ham United

Manchester United got their second win of the season Saturday afternoon against West Ham United in a match that was almost too close for me to handle. Strong play from both sides resulted in a spectacle that included drama, goals, and a bit too much diving for my taste. United had a strong and confident starting XI that also included a player by the name of Paddy McNair who made his Man United debut as a defender. Luke Shaw was also a big name on the team sheet after being out for quite some time with an injury.

Wayne Rooney put United ahead early in the match when in the fourth minute Rafael gives a pass that allows Rooney to just tap the ball into net and United went 1-0 up. The goal was a great showing, Rafael’s pass was absolutely brilliant, and Rooney made sure not to put too much power on the ball and overshoot, but instead just let his foot do the work. United continued to put up shots in the first 15 minutes, with Van Persie and Falcao both taking chances that missed. Robin Van Persie managed to beat defenders in the 22nd minute and then beat the goalkeeper to put United 2-0. Van Persie made it seem easy with just a few touches and a quick shot that got past the front left post and went in. West Ham United got on the board in the 37th minute after Diafra Sakho finds an opportunity after an overwhelmed De Gea left the net open and gave Sakho an easy shot to put West Ham only one down from United nearing halftime. Kevin Nolan thought he had the equaliser in the 89th minute, but as he was beginning his goal celebration, the flag from the assistant referee came up and offside was called.

Rafael’s smart passes into the 18 yard box are something to be praised after in the first 20 minutes his passing created two very strong chances with one resulting in a goal. United’s passing in general for the first half was strong and it was good to see the defensive players and offensive players on the same page for once, especially with the problems in the back field.

A huge moment for the match came near the 60th minute when Wayne Rooney was shown a red card after a fairly dumb play that involved a chop to the thigh of a West Ham player and most likely an angry Louis Van Gaal. We thought Rooney had been able to control his temper for the most part but it seemed to show there. United went one man down as well as a captain down with half an hour left to play in the match. This match was disappointing with the amount of over-exaggeration of tackles from players especially Rafael, who made mountains out of mole hills at many different points towards the end up the match. Rafael mainly targeted Sakho who was already on a yellow card. Risky behaviour seeing as though Rooney had already been sent off and having a player sent off for diving would not have been good for United.

While today was a huge win for United Louis Van Gaal still has some work to do to improve the squad to return to top of the table quality. Rooney will have a bit of explaining to do after his red card in the match. The defense will also continue it’s struggle to improve and become the brick wall United supporters are hoping for. Manchester United take on a strong Everton side who has seen drastic improvement under Roberto Martinez next Sunday at Old Trafford.