A wave of excitement rippled through Manchester United fans after it was confirmed that Victor Valdes would start his first competitive game for the club, albeit for the U21s.
After all, the ex-Barcelona player is a superstar in goalkeeping terms having previously won 21 trophies with Barcelona including three Champions League titles. It’s not often a keeper like Valdes finds himself playing U21s football.
Having completed his move to Man United in January, fans were keen to see him in action and what better way for him to start than a game against Liverpool?
Warren Joyce put out a very strong looking line-up for the U21s from kick-off which included the likes of McNair, Blackett and Anderson and United enjoyed most of possession in the early exchanges.
That being said, Valdes had his fair share of the ball. Throughout the game, Man United relied on the Spaniard to help keep possession and build from the back. As soon as the ball was at Valdes’ feet, United’s two centre-halves split and relied on Valdes’ distribution. Valdes obliged and did the job very well, although Tyler Blackett did his best to give away a goal when he inexplicably passed a ball straight to Liverpool at one point. Luckily, the shot flew wide.
In terms of shot stopping, Valdes was barely tested, largely thanks to United’s overall dominant performance. Liverpool had a couple of shots that blazed over the bar and on one occasion Valdes made a comfortable save. Despite an overall comfortable evening and three points, there was a black-mark on the performance as far as Valdes is concerned – Liverpool’s goal.
Following a lovely ball through, Sinclair found himself in space in United’s box and rifled a shot past Valdes at his near post. Rustiness was certainly a factor as it was the first match Valdes had played since March 2014 but you could see the disappointment on his face having been beaten at conceding.
After the goal went in, Valdes remained untested on the whole. A ball over the top saw Liverpool break-through on goal in the 72nd minute but Valdes was quickly off his line to smother the danger.
Valdes celebrated the victory with his team-mates after the full time whistle in the dressing room and the Spaniard would have been delighted with a win in his first appearance. A win over Liverpool, at any level, is not a bad way to start your United career.
The question will now be whether Louis van Gaal decides Valdes is ready enough to start in the FA Cup Fourth Round replay against Cambridge United at Old Trafford next week.