“The injury was hard but it is part of football career. Every player has a risk of injuries but hopefully this is now in the past and my better days are ahead of me.” Nemanja Vidic
1. A new season. A new haircut. A new Vidic. Nemanja made his first start for United after a successful rehabilitation period following a terrible cruciate ligament injury sustained against Basel that kept him out for eight months. Easily the best defender at United, it is huge for us to have our captain back. He strolled through the game today and didn’t look like he had lost too much of his game in his extended break.
It might be cliché but the return of Vidic really will feel like a new signing. Of all the absentees last year, Vidic was the most damaging to what was a torrid season at points. Our normally indomitable defence became leaky to say the least with our inability to defend set pieces hurting us massively across the campaign. A confident 60 minutes from the Serbian was fantastic to watch and it will breath confidence back into our defence.
2. Lack of goals in pre-season. A 0-0 draw today and two 1-0 victories over AmaZulu and Shanghai Shenhua so far in the pre-season isn’t exactly fruitful. Quite how we didn’t score today is beyond me. There was countless opportunities but to be fair to the Valerenga keeper, he had a cracking performance. Danny Welbeck looked most likely to score but the whole team had opportunities. We lost out on the title last year because of goal difference and although it is early doors, our strikers have got to put their chances away.
3. Valencia at right-back. I’m not a big fan of Valencia at right back purely because of what he offers to United’s attack as a winger but having Young, Nani and Valencia on the pitch isn’t half bad going forward. The right wing was easily our most dangerous outlet today because of Valencia’s dangerous overlapping runs but I don’t want to see it as a long term solution. Rafael grew massively last season as a player and Valencia was our best winger – that needs to remain again in the upcoming season.
This was my favourite move from Valencia in the match.
4. Nani at his frustrating best. Nani was absolutely superb for Portugal at Euro 2012. He was a key player in their run to the semi-final and put in some fantastic performances. So – where was that player today? United fans are used to watching Nani cut a frustrated figure but it doesn’t make it any less aggravating to watch. He just seems to dally on the ball far too often.
If this is Anderson’s make or break season, then Nani really has a point to prove. If reports are to be believed, we are on the verge of signing the talented winger Lucas Moura. More competition for the winger spots should, in theory, push Nani to improve his game. He can be a world class game winner on his day – he just needs to find the consistency that has always eluded him to win over the fans.
5. Kagawa and Rooney. They might not have had a lot of game time today but this could be the most fruitful partnership at Manchester United since Ronaldo and Rooney played alongside each other. Shinji Kagawa is exactly the player that Wayne Rooney needed at Old Trafford – someone who can pick the lock.
Far too often last season, Rooney found himself dropping deep and trying to breath life into the attacks with his incisive passing. Although successful, I would rather have Rooney on the end of a pass finishing it off than instigating it. You only have to look at the impact of Juan Mata and David Silva at Chelsea and Manchester City to see how important a diminutive playmaker is in the modern game and I can’t wait to see the pair in action in the Premier League.