1. Well, thank God that’s over, and more importantly, thank God it finished with three points for United. All summer we’ve had the first day of the season hanging over us. We drew 1-1 with Swansea at their place last year, so there were certainly easier fixtures we could have had for the opening day, and with Chelsea, Liverpool and City in the next few weeks, it was so important we got points on the board. To win and go top of the table is about as good as you could possibly hope for. Great start to the season.
2. The most reassuring thing from the game was seeing Robin van Persie picking up where he left off last season. With a midfielder still yet to sign, it looks as though we are going to be reliant on the Dutchman’s goals again this season, so for him to start the season so well is important. His first goal showed his fantastic ability, after a perfect ball was floated over the top from Ryan Giggs, and Van Persie volleyed in the air. But if his first goal was good, his second was even better. After a nice ball from Wayne Rooney, Van Persie charged forward, fooled his opponents with his quick feet, then smashed it in to the back of the net from outside the box. The guy is just quality and I’m still not sure when I’ll really get my head around him belonging to us.
3. Whilst it was a relief to see Van Persie scoring, it was even better to see Danny Welbeck get his name on the scoresheet. We can make excuses for his poor return in front of goal last season, like the fact he was played out of position and not given a proper run in the team, but you still have to acknowledge that he didn’t do well enough. Having scored 12 times the season before, he let himself down in 2012-2013, despite improving his movement, ability to pinch the ball of the opposition, and skilful feet. So to see him equal last season’s goal tally in the first game was a pretty fantastic start and hopefully a sign of what is to come. His first goal was a great example of being in the right place at the right time, after Antonio Valencia delivered an inch perfect cross for Danny to tap in. His second goal was a great example of how much technical ability he has, with him racing on to a ball from Rooney to chip the keeper. Not only did that wrap up the points but our place at the top of the table too. The only downside of his game was his silly mistake which lead to the Swansea goal. Not pratting around on the edge of your own box is a very basic rule for footballers and Welbeck really should have known better. When the goal went in Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand tore a strip off him. Better for him learn that lesson in a game like that than a game where it’s close though.
4. The biggest talking point before the game was Rooney and it was no surprise to see him start the game on the bench, after having little to no pre-season. He got some time for England earlier this week and looked a bit rusty, but he had a good half hour for us yesterday. It was his first touch pass that set up Van Persie and his through ball for Welbeck’s goal at the end. He was offside a couple of times when he really had no excuse to be but that’s just being picky. He’s got to get on with it now, we won’t be selling him, so it’s great to see that even if he does want out, he can still be an effective player for us. The reaction to him from the away fans from surprising though, with several chanting his name. I can understand not booing him, but surely he deserves nothing other than complete indifference? I suppose he can’t use the fans as an excuse to try and push a transfer through though if they’re supporting him.
5. David Moyes will have been keen to secure a clean sheet and will be disappointed by the manner of the goal we conceded. It was totally avoidable. But that wasn’t the only time they opened up our defence. Early on David de Gea showed why he was voted last season’s best keeper. Routledge wrong-footed Rio, who fell over, then got his shot away. De Gea didn’t only save it, but then somehow managed to prevent Dyer from tapping in the rebound, before the flag went up for offside. He also saved near post after Michu got a powerful shot away following some sloppy defending. Overall the defence did a good enough job though.
6. In the Fergie years, Ryan Giggs was fairly untouchable once he was on the pitch. He could easily be the worst performing player but the manager refused to sub him off. It would usually be when he was having one of those games that frustrates the hell out of the fans, where he refuses to do the simple thing, makes the wrong decision, and blames others when he makes mistakes, that he would get the full 90 minutes. Yesterday was a perfect example of one of those games. When he got in to great positions he’d choose the wrong person to pass it to, when in a good position to put us 1-0 up he missed the target then blamed Welbeck, and he was too often sloppy with his passing. That’s not to say it was a wasted day for Giggs though, as there aren’t many players who could have pulled off that ball forward for Van Persie for the first goal, with him sandwiched between two players. But it was pleasing to see Moyes take Giggs off with half an hour to go, with the chance of much improvement fairly slim, and Rooney’s contribution afterwards justified the decision.
7. The away fans, as always, were fantastic. Chants of “come on David Moyes, play like Fergie’s boys, we’ll go wild, wild, wild” were sung on repeat. In the second half, they started chanting “David Moyes’ red and white army”. The fans are doing exactly what Ferguson asked, supporting the manager, even if some still don’t agree he is qualified for the position.
8. All in all, the opening weekend couldn’t have gone much better for United. I would have happily settled for a 1-0 win, but to score four, with two strikers having early confidence to build on, is brilliant. Just like winning the Community Shield was a relief, so was yesterday’s game, and we’re as well prepared as we can be ahead of Chelsea now. It’s probably going to feel like a long season but we’ve started well and can hopefully add to our points in our next game at Old Trafford.
To mark the anniversary of United winning the Treble with a team that had academy products at the core, Made in Manchester is available for just £3 for today only. Some of the best football writers take a player each, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Ryan Giggs, George Best to David Beckham, Duncan Edwards to Paul Scholes, and many more, with 30 articles in total. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.