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What We Learned: Inter Milan (3) 0-0 (5) Manchester United

The third leg of our pre-season tour of America took place tonight. A victory on penalties after a fairly drab 0-0. Let’s see what we learned.

3-5-2 is the way forward. But not for everyone

It looks fairly nailed on that we will be playing this way next season at the very least. And that suits me down to the ground. But not for all concerned. Luke Shaw looks well versed as a wing back, but because his natural position is left back, where he is expected to both attack and defend in unison. Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia look much less comfortable. The former seemed more at home with the change, and could even find himself given a new lease of life playing there. Valencia doesn’t convince as a wing back. The pair of them are decent short-term, but their insecurities towards the defensive aspect could lead to fatal mistakes. Either Rafael needs to be ensured fit, or a signing needs to be made

One touch football is shexy as hell

Louis van Gaal knows how’s to play football. And he’s letting us all see it. That move in the first half was sensual stuff. One touch, move, one touch, move. Poetry. Unfortunately being against Italians a lot of what has been seen previously was extinguished, but the glimpses we saw were magnificent. Ander Herrera wasn’t allowed as much a grip on the game as we’ve slowly started to become accustomed to, and Juan Mata was much the same. But even with that, when we threatened to carve Inter open, we carved them open.

Wilfried Zaha, and the criticised few

Considering he’s just been told he has no future at United by the manager, the boy done good. There may not have been much of an end product every time he got the ball, he should have had at least a free kick, and ran with pace and directness. He was a boy on a mission. Sort his attitude out and he could well reignite his United career. Nani didn’t have much of an impact, but looked to finally play as Luis Nani, and not a wannabe Cristiano Ronaldo. Still, being taken off 20 minutes or so after being bought on was probably the final nail in the coffin. Young, as alluded to earlier, looked capable at wing-back. Defensively not there, but that’s not his natural game and nor is taking corners. However, the threat he posed going forward almost struck of the Young of old. Tom Cleverley was unfortunate not to win a penalty, but must surely be regretting not taking notes from Paul Scholes when he had the chance; especially on the topic ‘How to hit a ball first time’, Scholesy would have buried that opportunity he had. Shaw is rapid, and only falls into this category after his fitness was doubted. It certainly seems the writing is on the wall for a certain someone, and that van Gaal sees something in the others he’s willing to give time over.

Things will get better

My last point is a more obvious one, because there really wasn’t much in the match itself. I think our expectations for next season should be based around one action in the second half. Van Gaal’s reaction to Cleverley not getting a penalty and the soft award of a free kick seconds later was one of a man driven to win, even in a preseason friendly. It’s the type of things David Moyes did latterly when he was bemoaning his luck and frustrated things weren’t going right for him, it was simply bore from frustration. Van Gaal’s reaction was bore from his sheer desire to win whatever the game. Don’t forget that not two weeks ago was he lambasting the whole tour, calling it simply an exercise in advertisement. That desire is what’s making me excited for the three years we are promised him for, and is what’s making me firmly believe he is the man to steady the ship.

It will be different this season. And I like different. A lot.

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