- The Premier League is back, the fans are back at Old Trafford and United put on a show against Leeds United to start the season with a bang. If before the match, any United fan was asked whether they would take a one-nil win in the first match of the season, everyone will have accepted. Leeds are a very difficult team to play against. They are a fit team and they can run you over if the opponents don’t match them stride for stride. Moreover, most of the Leeds players have started pre-season under Bielsa from more than a month ago, while United had most of the first team returning late from their international duties at the Euros and Copa America. Indeed, Raphael Varane was paraded in front of the Old Trafford crowd before the match itself and hopefully he’ll be able to be involved in the next match, while Jadon Sancho joined the pre-season training barely a week ago and could only make the bench. Add to those the late arrivals of Fernandes, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Martial and Fred (Cavani will only join next week) and it would have been presumptuous to think that United would score five in the first fixture of the season. But that’s exactly what they did, all credit to the United players who ran as much as their counterparts for most of the match and in key moments the technical skills of Fernandes, Pogba and Greenwood made the difference. Ole demanded intensity from his players and that’s exactly what he got, as United harassed Leeds all over the pitch and the pressure finally told in ten magical minutes in the second half where United scored three to put the game to bed. Those goals came after an absolute screamer by Ayling had put Leeds back on level terms. United though showed character in taking control of the match soon after, which was another proof of the development of this bunch of players.
- With the capture of Jadon Sancho early in the transfer market, several supporters and pundits were expecting a change in formation for United this season. Maybe we will see a shift towards a more attacking formation as the season progresses but Ole had probably taken the decision a couple of weeks ago that against Leeds on the first day of the season the team needed to have the legs in midfield to match Bielsa’s runners. Hence he started with the tried and trusted McTominay and Fred anchoring United’s centre of the pitch and they were both instrumental in taming the Leeds players. The question remains whether United can play five attack minded players during the season. I believe that the answer is in the affirmative but it won’t be in every match. With Varane adding pace and experience to the back four though, there will be at least half of the matches where McTominay or Fred can play at the foot of a diamond midfield and five attacking minded players completing the formation, possibly Pogba, Fernandes, Sancho, Rashford and Greenwood. I can’t wait to see that combination on the field of play.
- Special mention today is going to the man of the match, Bruno, not just for a superb hat-trick but mainly for an all-round gritty and inspirational performance. The hunger shown on the pitch by Bruno is infectious and he certainly motivates the rest of the team. I particularly liked one moment in the second half when the result was already 5-1 and Bruno crossed the pitch from right to left to cover for a tired Paul Pogba with Leeds trying to build from the back. These are the moments that have an immense impact on the togetherness of the team. So Bruno gets my first special mention of the season. That said, I was equally impressed with Mason and Scott today. Mason was immense against Leeds and his goal a couple of minutes after the Leeds equaliser turned the match on its head. It was very well taken and clinical as always. Scott was everywhere in that midfield and his energy provided a platform for the forwards to go on and win the match in emphatic fashion.
Looking forward to receiving your thoughts on the Facebook page. GGMU!
Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.