Louis van Gaal could hardly have asked for a better start to his Manchester United career than the one his Red Devils gave him with a 7-0 win over LA Galaxy at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
A welter of plus-points came out of the fixture against a side in the midst of their Major League Soccer campaign.
United will not have long to wait to test themselves against more credible opposition as they’re 11/10 favourites to beat Roma, who conquered Liverpool yesterday at Fenway Park, in Denver this evening.
In the meantime here’s how news.bwin.com/en/ rank the positives that came out of the Galaxy thrashing.
7. The result.
Yes it may seem a touch obvious, but, lest we forget, United lost 1-0 to a Thai All Star XI in their first non-competitive outing of 2013/14.
6. Questions about squad balance have been identified.
Amidst widespread post-match plaudits there was evidence that Van Gaal already has a handle on how to make better sense of his roster moving forward, telling the press:
‘We have four No 10s, so the selection is not balanced in my eyes’.
5. Reece James’ two-goal cameo.
Just when it seemed the sale of Patrice Evra to Juventus had left United short at left-back, up pops 20-year-old James to burnish 45 promising minutes with not one, but two goals for his scrapbook.
4. Antonio Valencia could be tailor-made for life as a wing-back.
Think of the world’s finest exponents of the trade, the likes of Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah of Juventus.
Bullishly strong, fast and possessed of more stamina than a rose-tinted reassessment of Arsenal’s 2013/14, they have their similarities with the Ecuadorian.
3. A full 90 minutes for Darren Fletcher.
With Michael Carrick out injured for 12 weeks, the Scot’s experience can be vitally importance for the side and he donned the captain’s armband in a show of faith from his new boss.
Despite being shifted back to centre-half in the second stanza, it’s heartening to see Fletcher, who has suffered so much with illness, string 90 minutes together.
2. The players’ adaptation to Van Gaal’s 3-4-3/3-5-2.
It’s early days and the mechanics of United’s new configuration will be subjected to far sterner examinations but, considering the players had ‘only played (3-4-3) two times on the training pitch 11 v 11’ according to LvG, the clean sheet and attacking fluency were evidence that the transition shouldn’t prove too traumatic.
1. Ander Herrera’s playmaking.
The Spaniard was the star of the show in LA, dictating tempo, threatening from distance and setting up goals and scoring opportunities.
It’s early days, but the boy from Bilbao has offered hope that Paul Scholes successor may finally have arrived.