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What We Learned: Club America 0-1 Manchester United – International Champions Cup 2015

Manchester United managed to get through their first pre-season tour match, only by a margin of one goal though. One would feel, with the anticipation that had built up, the result was disappointing. But expecting the team, with four new players and so many young ones included to hit the top gear straight away, would have been a tad too much. Louis van Gaal, as told to the media earlier, played most of the players for 45 minutes, by fielding two different sides in two halves. With three out of four new signings being part of the first half, the synchronization was a bit at loss, however the only goal of the match came in the first half. The second half XI was, however, the more exciting one. In spite of being a lackluster and uncertain performance there were things that deserved notice.

Sam Johnstone, David De Gea’s understudy?

David De Gea missed the match due to a small niggle and with Van Gaal unwilling to take chances, played Sam Johnstone as the number one for first half. One must say that the young keeper, seemed extremely calm and poised while dealing with the several terrible back passes. He was well aware of his position and was quick to get off the block in order to avoid one-on-one scenarios. He impressed more than Anders Lindegaard did in the second half. Van Gaal would surely have noticed it and with Victor Valdes on his way out, would like to include him in his plans for the first team whenever possible.

New signings stood out; Morgan Schneiderlin, the best of the lot

With all the new signings making their debut, the fans got what they came for. Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis Depay and Matteo Darmian were part of the first half XI while Bastian Schweinsteiger held the second half XI together. The most impressive of the lot was, however, Schneiderlin. The defensive midfielder was to be seen everywhere on the pitch where the ball traveled. His presence over the field was so commanding, that one did not notice Michael Carrick on the field. With the interceptions and shielding the young defence, Schneiderlin was arguably the best player on field today, putting both the halves together.

Matteo Darmian had an impressive outing too. With the runs back and forth, and quick presence of mind, he must have instilled confidence, not only in lot of United supporters but also in the manager’s mind. Memphis Depay showed good movements too, however sometimes missed the final linking. He was seen building a partnership with Wayne Rooney. though not their yet, some of his first touches to get the ball behind the defense were impressive. The German, Schweinsteiger, anchored the second half and was as cool as cucumber throughout the time he played. His control and passing of the ball was right up there. The new signings have stood out for United in the limited time that they got and the future looks promising.

Young guns blazing, especially Andreas Pereira

As Van Gaal said before leaving for the tour, he wanted to give a lot of youngsters a chance, so did he. The second half XI looked like the U21 team of United with the exception of Schweinsteiger and Ander Herrera. As was noticeable, the second half XI played better than the first half with Andreas Pereira being the brightest of them all. Pereira had impressed everyone in the U19 World cup and he continued to do so here, so much so that one would have to count him to be right up there with Schneiderlin, this match. The intent in his runs and handling the ball were top-notch and one would expect Van Gaal to include him in the first team, a lot more than he did last season. Rest of the lot did fine too but could do with a bit of fine tuning.

Back line troubles

The defense and the back line however could do a lot better. The fact that it was Club America, helped them, but a similar performance against the likes of Paris Saint-Germain or Barcelona would only be devastating. Van Gaal, post match, commented:

“I wanted to see our defensive organisation, that was the main aspect.”

He must have felt the need for experience at the back, hopefully, and would like to make at least one addition to the defense, ideally, before the tour ends.

This was only the first match of the total four and United would like to keep progressing to get better with each match. Van Gaal would most probably try out the same tactics of having two different teams for each half in the next game too, maybe reshuffle them a bit, in order to finalize his best XI for the last two big matches against Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona. But, all in all, in spite of some individual brilliance, it looked a little lackluster as a team. Lets hope it only gets upwards from here.

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