That’s more like it. Up until today, Manchester United’s performances so far this season had been disjointed and poor but it was a completely different sort of showing from United against QPR.
United played with real confidence in every respect. With possession, there was more movement from every player, passes were sharper and United’s football was fluid. Without possession, United squeezed the space and QPR had hardly any time on the ball.
Confidence is everything in football and today could be the watershed moment United needed to kick start the season.
New signings, new era. Angel di Maria, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Radamel Falcao and Luke Shaw. That investment of £150m this summer has brought United into a new era and if today’s performance is anything to go by, it’s going to be an exciting ride.
Di Maria was outstanding and looked worth every penny, Blind played an extremely important role in helping United maintain control while Rojo looked very assured on his debut.
The Van Gaal era is now well and truly under way.
The quick death of 3-5-2. United lined up in a 4-4-2 formation against QPR and it made a dramatic difference to how United played.
With Blind at the foot of a diamond shape in midfield, United were able to completely control the tempo and dictated the game right from the start. QPR were never able to get a foothold.
Van Gaal only used a 3-5-2 formation with Holland at the World Cup because it suited the squad. Now that he has brought in the players he wanted, expect to see United move away from the 3-5-2.
United will only get better. Given that so many players were playing at Old Trafford for the first time, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see United take a couple of games to really reach top gear.
However, United were fantastic from the start but the best thing about it all is that United will get stronger the longer the season progresses.
If this is how good United can play having only been together as a squad for a few days after the international break, how good could they be after a few months of getting to understand Van Gaal’s philosophy inside out?