1. Another game in Europe out of the way, another three points. We can see the stark difference in approach that the manager is taking with the Champions League this season. He’s not pratting about with the team selection this season and it’s great to see. We underestimated our opposition last season so it’s really encouraging that we’re going in to every game with such a strong team. This is how it should be done. Get qualification wrapped up and then we can start giving other players a go.
2. The highlight of the game was probably getting to see Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie start alongside each other for the first time this season. They were the two highest scorers in the league last season and if tonight was anything to go by, we should expect loads more goals from them this season. Rooney assisted both of Van Persie’s goals tonight with two great balls in to the Dutchman. I still don’t think it’s really sunk in that Van Persie is a United player but it’s thoroughly enjoyable watching him play. He is world class and it’s great to see him in our shirt. In all competitions this season he’s scored a goal every 81.7 minutes. That’s why we paid over the odds for a 29-year-old.
3. It was also encouraging to see Darren Fletcher get another 90 minutes under his belt. He looked tired towards the end of the game but he fulfilled his role well during the game. He’s obviously not going to be up to scratch just yet, given the amount of time he was out and how little playing time he’s had since returning, but we have been missing a more deep-lying midfielder and I would love to see him make a full recovery to do that for us. It was hard to imagine him every coming back and whilst he’s not out of the woods yet, it’s brilliant to see him on the pitch again.
4. Anderson and Tom Cleverley partnered Fletch in midfield today and they were impressive too. We have so much more energy when these two play in midfield, in comparison to Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick. It’s hard to judge how effective this combination would be in the league, when you consider the competition that Cluj, who are currently 8th in the Romanian league, provided us with in this department. Still, at the very least, we should be seeing Cleverley start more often.
5. Ferguson said ahead of the game that is was important we started better than we had done in so many of our games this season. Against Fulham we conceded after 3 minutes, against Southampton after 16 and against Spurs after 2. It doesn’t seem to matter how much the manager stresses a good start to our players, we are so slow off the mark in our games. Despite dominating the early part of the game, United found themselves 1-0 down after sloppy defending. Patrice Evra and Jonny Evans gave their men all the room in the world. I know it’s popular to have a pop at Evra these days but it’s becoming almost unavoidable. Make mistakes is one thing, but the lack of effort he showed to get tight to his man after being caught of position is unforgivable. Having a great game against Wigan doesn’t make Alexander Büttner our best left-back but I can’t see what harm it would do giving him more of a go.
6. Despite totally dominating the game, United took their foot off the pedal with 20 minutes to go, passing the ball around well, but with no urgency. We seemed content to see the game out at 2-1 and were in a comfortable position to do so. But when Cluj got a second wind in the last five minutes we could have been left to regret not making the most of our domination. Thankfully, David de Gea is a fantastic goalkeeper and made some top saves. I can’t understand Ferguson’s decision to keep chopping and changing between him and Anders Lindegaard. If it was up to me, De Gea would be our #1 with Lindegaard stepping in for the cup games. He is the superior goalie and making the odd mistake is something he needs to learn from and given the opportunity to improve upon. This policy was a disaster with Roy Carroll and Tim Howard (albeit inferior keepers) and I can’t get my head around the decision to revisit it.
7. I can’t say I particularly enjoy seeing United play without wingers but with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young injured, I suppose we don’t have any awful lot of choice. There was some nice passing, particularly in the second half, but I would have liked to see more chances created with the amount of possession we had. All in all though, that was a comfortable victory for United and it’s another three points on the board.