So on paper United had two must win games this week at home to both Leicester City and Cambridge United. With six goals scored and one conceded Louis Van Gaal’s side brushed both opponents aside without really setting the world alight. In both games the Red’s showed great dominance but against Leicester City in particular it really had that feeling that the game just fizzled out when the opportunity was really there to seek revenge for that 5-3 defeat earlier in the season.
The pleasing aspect from both performances was the six goals scored however and United at least looked like they were prepared to take a slight risk or two and actually create some chances. Last night in particular we saw some very nice football on display, all be it hard to judge against a lower league opposition. James Wilson’s goal was the main highlight of the night, the youngster showing great composure with a wonderful finish following an impressive introduction from the bench.
Daley Blind’s performances in particular are two that should be of note, the Dutchman added some much needed energy to the midfield against Leicester, he made countless tackles and assisted Robin Van Persie for United’s first with a beautifully weighted pass. It’s easy to get carried away but I feel he is now a better option than Michael Carrick in that holding midfield role and he could very well end up being United’s best bit of business last season. Many will argue but despite definitely playing a part in helping sure up United’s defence I feel Carrick may also have been the demise in United’s slow tempoed, uncharacteristical build-up play.
Paddy McNair’s display against Cambridge last night was also very refreshing. All be it against League 2 opposition he looked completely at home in the right-back position, comfortable on the ball and evoking just how abysmal Antonio Valencia’s end product has become. It’s early days but the young lad looks like he can display consistency. Gary Neville was the king of consistency and he too started out life as a right-back. let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet though!
The transfer deadline day was a fairly quiet one at Carrington but some may argue an effective one. Louis Van Gaal removed some of the deadwood from the squad ready for what promises to be a huge window in the summer. Anderson has finally left his role as the class clown and departed back to Brazil, it’s a shame it never worked out for him but no other big club would have kept such mediocrity on the books for quite so long. He did dominate Fabregas in that 2-2 draw with Arsenal back in 2007, and who can forget that penalty in Moscow! Wilfred Zaha also made the predictable permanent switch back to Palace, we will never really know what went wrong there but the lad looked like he had all the potential in the world. A huge shame.
Darren Fletcher then of course made a late move to West Brom after his move to West Ham fell through. I discussed Fletcher and just how good a servant he was for the club last week and again i’m sure in saying that every supporter wishes him the very best and West Brom have got a player on their hands that will always give one hundred percent. He will get a great reception when he returns back to Manchester.
Finally in this January’s window there was a last minute groundbreaking transfer. Well, not quite. United have officially loaned Andy Kellet from Bolton Wanderers. The 21-year-old has made just four senior appearances for Bolton and has just spent three months on loan at Plymouth Argyle. Promising youngster Saidy Janko has moved the other direction on loan in search of first team football so it looks very much like Warren Joyce has made an astute move to bolster a depleted U21’s side that is fighting heavily for the U21 league title. Either that or United are skint and our defence is ten times worse than even the media are making out! Either way what a chance for Kellet.
To summarise the transfer window it’s been a dull one. Van Gaal repeatedly stated he would not be bringing in players however so maybe he will now have gained a bit of trust and respect from the media he so loves to abuse! I personally am pleased with the dead wood shifted and would rather United save the money for the summer to buy real quality than waste it on mediocrity such as the overhyped Ron Vlaar. This is Manchester United, we only want the best.
The U21’s unfortunately slipped to a home defeat on Monday night, going down 2-1 to Fulham. Nick Powell was on target for the Red’s before Fulham turned the game on its head. Perhaps the main positive was that Rafael Da Silva got a full ninety minutes under his belt which he can now build on to make that right-back position his own in the first team. In other U21 news, Jesse Lingard had signed a new three year deal with the club before heading out to Derby on loan. The youngster has showed some promising signs in United’s last couple of pre-season tours and I expect this is is last chance to impress before his future is really decided come the summer.
The first team now travel to West Ham United on Sunday and they will have one tough game on their hands. The Hammer’s always raise their game for the visit of United and with Sam Allardyce’s side also fighting for European football victory would be all the sweeter if Louis Van Gaal’s side can deliver. Hopefully Radamel Falcao’s goal last weekend can set him off on a nice little run and fire the Red’s back into the Champions League. A nice little trip down the road to Preston is also now on the horizon, my mouth is watering at the thought of United’s first FA Cup triumph since 2004! Overall a pleasing seven days at United, let’s hope things will be in such a positive shade come this time next week.