Manchester United 3-2 AS Roma: Five lessons we learned

by Harriet Drudge

The players are looking comfortable in possession again. The same players that looked frightened of making a mistake with every touch of the ball last season are looking comfortable in possession again.

Although it is only pre-season, the players are playing without fear which is undoubtedly a result of the confidence the manager has instilled in them.

Louis van Gaal can manage egos. Wayne Rooney has made no secret of the fact that he wants the captaincy at Old Trafford but Van Gaal opted to give the armband to Tom Cleverley.

Although quiet in the early exchanges, Rooney opened the scoring in spectacular style showing no signs of having his nose put out of joint after being overlooked for the second time in two matches to captain the side.

Rooney is in good form. Rooney endured a torrid World Cup with his England teammates but has come back into pre-season firing, scoring four goals in two games.

Playing in his favoured position as the main striker, the 28-year-old scored a fantastic goal from 25-yards to give United the lead, scored a penalty on the stroke of half-time and provided a superb assist for Juan Mata in between his strikes. It appears talk of the striker being past his peak may have been a bit premature.

Juan Mata‘s first touch is beautiful. A fact many know already, but the way the Spaniard can pluck a ball out of the air is simply a thing of beauty. The way he controlled the long through-ball from Rooney to allow him to chip the Roma goalkeeper will undoubtedly have Manchester United fans excited about what lies ahead this season.

Wilfried Zaha’s attitude needs to improve. Zaha is the only outfield member of the United squad yet to feature on the pre-season tour despite being fully fit and available for selection.

James Ducker of The Times reported that Zaha was the only member of the squad not to turn up to training after being offered the choice to train or have a day off earlier in pre-season. If that’s the case, then the writing is already on the wall for him.

He may be talented but the youngster needs to learn the importance of attitude and the psychology of what it means to be a Manchester United player if he is to get into van Gaal’s side.

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