Louis van Gaal can breathe a sigh of relief as his new signings propelled his squad towards a much needed first win of his Manchester United managerial career.
With players returning from injury, Marcos Rojo finally acquiring a work permit, Rademel Falcao and Daley Blind available for selection, questions arose regarding whether Van Gaal would stick with the 5-3-2 formation or adopt a new tactic to cater to the new signings. For the moment, Van Gaal reverted back to a four-man defence with Rafael and Rojo in the fullback position, while Evans and Blackett played centrally. In the middle, Van Gaal went with a diamond shape; Daley Blind was the sole pivot, Angel di Maria and Ander Herrera manned the flanks, with the latter returning from injuries, and Mata – whose inclusion came under question with the Falcao signing – was head of the diamond. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie remained the two main strikers in a 4-4-2, meaning Falcao would make an appearance off the bench.
The rumours linking Cristiano Ronaldo with a return to Manchester United simply refuse to go away, as the Portuguese has apparently grown increasingly frustrated with life in Madrid and could leave the Bernabeu next summer.
Since leaving the club in the summer of 2009, Ronaldo has become an even better player than he was at United, scoring 256 goals in 251 appearances in all competitions for Real Madrid, but various reports have suggested that the 29-year-old is looking to engineer a move away from Madrid and back to United at the end of the season.
Rio Ferdinand has hit out at David Moyes for trying to impose a vision on United, despite the Scotsman, who was also lambasted for adopting “embarrassing” tactics, himself not being too clear about the plan.
Ferdinand returned to Old Trafford on Sunday after leaving the club on a free transfer in the summer, having brought a 10-year career at United to an end in disappointing fashion as the club endured an absolute nightmare of a season under the former Everton manager, who was criticised by Ferdinand for creating a “bad vibe”.
There’s an old saying in football that you can only beat what is put in front of you. Yesterday afternoon, Manchester United did exactly that, by dismantling a QPR side that will already be early favourites to go down at the culmination of the Premier League season.
The result was met with the standard, unbalanced, views of fans from clubs across the league, positively seething at the fact that United had sparkled so brightly once again and sent out a warning shot to our closest rivals.
After three subdued performances, the visit of QPR at Old Trafford was supposed to be the start of a new era, the real beginning after the Louis Van Gaal revolution and United didn’t disappoint.
The West Londoners might not be a force to be reckoned with – in fact they were abysmal for large spells of the game – but it was a refreshing change to see United finally take control of a game and play with confidence and intent. Here’s five things we’ve learnt from Sunday…
It is an often repeated mantra that Manchester United don’t buy super stars, they make them.
Ronaldo, Vidic, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham, Solskjaer… the list goes on and on. But desperate times call for desperate measures and after a fragile start to the season and a second consecutive finish outside the top 4 a very real possibility, Ed Woodward ripped up the traditional United strategy and went big. In fact, the biggest British football has ever seen.
But in some quarters, this sudden outburst of spending is seen to be counterintuitive. In fact, it was Louis van Gaal himself who bemoaned the amount of attacking players United’s squad boasted. It was imbalanced and a tricky jigsaw to piece together. Yet, once again the Old Trafford executives have brought in two attacking players and further selection headaches for the Dutch manager to contend with.
So, for the first time in what seems like decades, United fans were left breathless by a summer transfer window. Either the Glazer family had just discovered the addictive drug of Football Manager, or they finally realised that Van Gaal’s squad needed a major injection of cash. Yet, for all the exhilarating action of the final weeks of the window, the previous months had offered little to suggest any excitement.
The early months of June and July began at a calm pace. Dead wood was shed as Alex Buttner was shown the exit and long term targets Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera, of fake lawyer fame, were quickly signed up, albeit for what seemed inflated prices. Nonetheless it was a strong and stable start. Ed Woodward, United’s much maligned head transfer honcho, had identified key areas for strengthening and had acted quickly to shore up defence and midfield.
Phil Jones out for a month
In today’s press conference Louis Van Gaal revealed that Phil Jones is the latest to hand in his sick note, taking United’s total number of injuries to nine.
“Fellaini is more than a month away, Jones maybe three weeks or a month,” said Van Gaal.
“Carrick isn’t ready but has run for the first time on grass.”
“Johnstone has elbow problems, Smalling isn’t fit enough, Wilson and James are not ready yet. Young and Lingard are also injured,” added the United manager.
The boss had some positive news, claiming that Luke Shaw is fit and will be able to make his debut on Sunday.
It is unclear whether United will still continue with three in defence on Sunday or whether it will be a four man back line, throwing new signings Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind in at the deep end.
Regardless, it must be questioned what on earth is going on in the fitness department at United.