Finally, the curtain raiser is done and dusted and the real football starts from now. The first piece of silverware at Manchester United for Jose Mourinho now puts him level with David Moyes on achievements at Old Trafford, let’s just hope he surpasses the former manager! A glorified friendly it may be, but here is what we learned against Leicester.
Chris Smalling has a new partner
Early days it may be for the young man signed from Villareal, but the signs today were promising to say the absolute least. When compared to previous foes in Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Cristiano Ronaldo, Jamie Vardy doesn’t hold much light, but he is still a handful and a handful that Bailly coped with expertly all afternoon. Once or twice the Leicester man got the better of him but more often than not Bailly recovered with strength, pace and an excellent timing of challenge. He’s also mental. The challenge on Demarai Gray whilst on a booking was utterly ruthless, and this is something that should be embraced as well as controlled. It’s early, maybe too early, but it looks as though United have a real player on their hands.
Paul Pogba is needed in the middle
Marouane Fellaini still gets picked in the starting eleven. I’m still coming to terms with that. Michael Carrick has one or two uses, he at least used to have a footballing ability, but Fellaini has none whatsoever. The fact his most telling contribution was to assist Jamie Vardy says a lot about his efforts today. Carrick wasn’t brilliant. His lack of pace was totally exposed by not having a quick partner in with him (Ander Herrera sat on the bench for the most part). It was crying out for someone like Herrera to partner him, so when Pogba comes in it will release the pressure off Carrick if he is to be the one. Personally, I’d like to see Herrera and Pogba at Bournemouth.
The attacking quartet
Anthony Martial was alright, Jesse Lingard scored a phenomenal goal, Zlatan Ibrahimovic popped up with the winner in spite of being underwhelming, Wayne Rooney is just plain finished. He had no first touch and not a lot of anything else really. It broke everything up and (along with a weak midfield) rendered the other three in the final third almost useless. Quite why Henrikh Mkhitaryan didn’t start or come on earlier I haven’t got a clue. He certainly would have bridged the gap and bought Ibrahimovic into the game a lot more. It was made up for by Valencia and Shaw pitching in, but something has to change.
It is only the Community Shield, but it’s a trophy none the less. It doesn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things but winning something could prove a catalyst (although it didn’t for Moyes) for the league campaign. Jesse Lingard’s goal really was exceptional and further tribute to a player awfully underrated by most. Antonio Valencia provided the assist doing what he does best and what I’ve been screaming at him to do for months now. Continue that and he will start assisting more and more again. No Mkhitaryan doesn’t concern me, but it showed that a player of his calibre is the missing piece of the puzzle.