Manchester United marked their return to European football with a 3-1 win over Club Brugge last night, as goals from Memphis Depay and Marouane Fellaini put the Reds a step closer to returning to the group stages of the Champions League after last season’s absence.
Despite the result, however, things did not run as smoothly as some would have anticipated, as Brugge took an unexpected early lead and looked threatening in the first half. However, in the second 45 minutes, United stepped up a gear and produced the sort of football they had not delivered in the first two games of the season.
Here’s six key points from United’s return to Europe.
Manchester United are joint top of the league after two games, have looked unexpectedly solid at the back and are yet to concede a goal. However, that’s where the positives end for Louis Van Gaal, as his side still looks to be struggling to regain the fluidity they displayed over six games in spring last season, when United seemed to have well and truly returned to their usual, pre-Moyes selves.
With European football returning to Old Trafford tomorrow, here are five talking points from United’s first two games of the campaign.
Get the business out of the way early on should be Manchester United’s mantra this summer.
At this time of the year 12 months ago, United were desperate to make signings, a task made more necessary and yet more difficult by the mess Louis Van Gaal inherited by David Moyes.
With the transfer window set to open in just over two weeks, United fans are filled with a strange mixture of feelings, from sheer optimism to an hard-to-dislodge sense of urgency.
After an appalling 2013-14 campaign, the Reds endured an up and down season which saw them finish in fourth place and qualify for a Champions league playoff spot.
Over the past two seasons just about anyone and everyone has been linked with a potential move to Old Trafford. In his first summer transfer window Louis Van Gaal spent nearly £150 million on new talent, bringing in six players who have all enjoyed periods of good form this season when not injured.
Although the two big name signings of Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria have failed to live up to expectations, Van Gaal has got the most out of his less hyped signings, like Daley Blind and Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo.
So often Manchester United have chased, been led a merry dance and failed in the acquisition of world class footballers. The prolonged pursuits of Ronaldinho and Fabregas are embarrassing examples of this from down the years.
So when the loan signing of Radamel Falcao was announced, united fans began to fantasise at the prospect of goals and records that would tumble. It hasn’t happened has it?
United fans are still grieving the loss of Sir Alex Ferguson. It needs to stop.
Years of trophies, a world class manager and a lack of depth in the league, where at least six teams can be currently seen as United’s genuine competitors, as opposed to two or three – Arsenal, Chelsea, more recently City – over the Ferguson era have ultimately left, some, United fans spoilt.
Radamel Falcao is currently experiencing his most difficult spell as a professional footballer. Notwithstanding Saturday’s goal it may very well be the most out of form spell he has experienced his entire life. Let’s face it the man has been nothing but top class since his arrival on the European football scene with Porto in 2009. However, his form this season has left much to be desired.
His four goals in 14 league appearances so far this campaign are not even been remotely close to his 153 to 197 goal to appearance ratio through the past five years. An in depth look at his stats reveals roughly a 0.0045 goals per minute ratio and a 0.231 goals per appearance ratio this Premier League season so far.