Monday 14 August 2017

Only one game but there's cautious grounds for optimism

Every team looks to make a statement at the start of a season and the one United sent out in the 4-0 win over West Ham was emphatic.

We moved the ball at speed with a tempo not seen for a long time, and there was so much energy, pace and desire in the team, particularly in the final third.

The Reds proved irresistible going forward at an attacking intensity we've longed for and, even though it is still (very) early days, you can see that there is a swagger about Jose and the players.

Put into context, United threw down the gauntlet on an opening weekend in which many of the other big names struggled

Arsenal needed a late winner to see off Leicester (having twice trailed), Liverpool were held at Watford and Chelsea were beaten by Sean Dyche's Burnley.

Big spending neighbours City - hotly tipped for the title - toiled for 70 minutes before they eventually broke down newly promoted Brighton in a 2-0 win.

Like Pep Guardiola's side, United seem better equipped than everyone else to mount what we hope will be a serious title tilt. 

The assertion from many that the challenge for the league will be an all-Manchester one is hard to argue with,  even at this fledgling stage of the new campaign. 

Last season, our problem was a chronic failure to finish off the opposition in matches such as this, particularly at Old Trafford, when we'd often dominate without success.

Drawing at home proved our Achilles heel but once we had gone ahead on Sunday, it was a case of how many we'd score. 

The team did not have much defending to do, because a poor West Ham side offered next to nothing - but that was because United did not let them.

Nemanja Matic was the outstanding player on the field, nobody else was going to take the plaudits but him and he was immense.

It was the kind of complete midfield display that former side Chelsea lacked so much in their shock defeat to Burnley - someone able to stamp his authority on the game.

Matic was aggressive when he had to be, he put in the tackles, drove forward but his distribution was also top class.
He kept things simple but spread the play when needed and fully deserved his man of the match award.

He influenced the other players around him - in particular Paul Pogba - and that partnership will be key for any potential title challenge.

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