Manchester United opened their Champions League group stage campaign with a 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen last night at Old Trafford.
The victory was a routine one in the end, after a slight scare from the German visitors at 1-0.
Manchester United have looked laboured at times going forward this season, but last night’s game we finally saw the dynamo attacking football back in the United game.
They looked a threat going forward and Antonio Valencia is starting to play like the dangerous winger we all know he is.
New signing Marouane Fellaini made a solid, if unspectacular start to his Red Devils career in the centre of the United midfield. He broke up the Leverkusen attacks and played it simple when needed.
The former-Everton’s stars performances will improve when he gets accustomed to his new teammates and the way United play. He adds something that the champions have missed in recent years, a midfield bite. He is a player who is a tough tackler. The Belgium international is also very useful in the air in both penalty areas.
In yesterday’s article I talked about David Moyes learning to use the resources at his disposal. One of those resources is Japanese star Shinji Kagawa and he had a decent game in last night’s clash. However, the former-Dortmund player has hardly played this season and looked slightly rusty.
The playmaker needs to regain his Dortmund form if he has any chance of being successful at Old Trafford. He has the ability, but whether he has the right mental attributes to be a United player remains to be seen.
If Kagawa is given chances in the United first team in the next few weeks then he has to take them. The next few months could be crucial in his career with the champions.
Last night one player shone above the rest on the pitch, that man was England striker Wayne Rooney. The striker seems to be far more settled at United now that the transfer window is shut. Rooney was linked with moves to Arsenal and Chelsea in the summer.
It was also believed that he was unhappy at Manchester United and that he wanted to move elsewhere. If that is true then he certainly seems happy now. His performance in the last few games has not been one of an unhappy man.
In fact last night’s performance was probably one of the best that he has produced in a very long time. For too long Rooney seems to have been a shadow of his former-self. The striker was unable to find his best form last season, but still managed 12 goals in 27 Premier League appearances.
Last night he was at his brilliant best. On his day the former-Everton striker is one of the best forwards in the English top-flight, if not Europe. He works hard, scores goals and provides assists for his teammates. On form he is the complete forward.
When he is happy Wayne Rooney is simply a joy to watch and at the moment Rooney seems to be enjoying his football, which is a feeling he seemed to lose last season as frustration got the better of him.
The one concern that United boss David Moyes will have is the team’s defensive display last night. Against better teams that United defence may well concede more goals than they did last night. It may have just have been a one-off, but the defensive display last night was very unconvincing.
However, if there are problems in the United backline David Moyes is the person to sort them out. The United boss spent most of his career playing as a centre-back and defensive coaching is one of his strengths.
Everton were always very well drilled under the Scot and hard to beat. Last season for example the Toffees had the fourth best defensive record in the Premier League under Moyes. The Toffees actually conceded less goals than the champions last season.
If United do have defensive problems I am sure that Moyes will fix them and make sure the Red Devils are solid over the coming months.
The victory over Bayer Leverkusen was a decent start to United’s Champions League campaign. Tougher games lie ahead though, especially when the Red Devils have to visit Leverkusen and a tough trip to Shakhtar Donetsk.
For now though, David Moyes has his first Champions League victory under his belt and no doubt he has learnt a thing or two about his team. United may have started the season slowly, but they are showing signs of getting back to their blistering best and that spells danger for their European and domestic rivals alike.
Did Manchester United’s performance against Bayer Leverkusen impress you?