As usual, it is fitting that United have their final pre-season fixture at home so that the fans can get a glimpse of how far the team has come as far as preparing for the new season and I have to say, we were treated to an entertaining spectacle last night.
For starters, United did get the win--2-0 with goals from Wayne Rooney and Tom Cleverly.
What pleased many on the night were the wonderful performances produced by each of the players that Sir Alex sent out last night.
The first lauds should go to Mr. Antonio Valencia who was my, and many people's choice of Man of the match. The Ecuadorian winger has proved that whilst he may not have the goal-return that Ronaldo gave United, he does have a directness of play that will time and time again create chances for our forwards, and in some instances himself! His performance was so good that the boss had to use the word 'very' twice to stress how well he had played when asked by MUTV. His accurate passing in the box will also benefit those around him next season. We've seen him play on three different occasions already and I have so far not been disappointed. The right wing at OT is in safe hands.
Then how about a certain 20 year old right-back called Ritchie DeLaet? To be honest, I saw this guy in action in our last game last season at Hull and I thought his performance was a one-off, saw I did not make anything out of it; but when he produced a repeat performance last night, I was over the moon. This lad re-defines the full-back position. Testament to that is the fact that he had three or four attempts at goal and also had the confidence to take on three Valencia players if that was the only way he could get in their box. I mean such defenders don't come around too often so I think we have a gem here. What's puzzling me though is that why are we so heavily armed in the right-back position and yet we could do with say more armoury on the left wing? Anyhow, I really hope Ritchie gets his promotion into the first team soon He deserves it.
Rio Ferdinand, in the absence of Nemanja Vidic, did take on the dirty-work responsibility and i thought he did very well. If he remains fit throughout the season, it will be a big bonus for us. That however is not to say that we don't have enough cover in Jonny Evans and Craig Cathcart.
Now as far as the forwards are concerned, Sir Alex did for the first time pair Rooney and Owen upfront and I must say that but for the poor finishing that Michael treated us to last night, that partnership seemed to work to almost perfection. They were reading each-other's moves so well that the on-looking Fabio Cappello must be thinking heavily about including Michael in his England squad this weekend. We United fans will be rather indifferent to this as we all know that International duty is another avenue for injury. He got his worst injury whilst on national duty with England.
Now something hit me last night whilst watching the game. If you asked a United fan to point out an example of the club's policy of developing youth, many will quickly mention Danny Welbeck and Kiko Macheda. Yesterday, I realised that we could actually benefit from our academy in the future given how many youngsters we have that are doing well. I mean we've got Welbeck, Macheda, Gibson, Evans, Carthcart, Tom Cleverley, Delaet, Foster,Fabio, Rafael, Tosic---I mean all these players can be trusted to do a job at any given time and I'm proud to add that not many sides in the world have got that luxury. To think that we could still get 10 years from these players shows you why United could still be a force in the not too distant future.
Now, the debate rages on--who starts in goal on Sunday? Sir Alex gave both Tomaz K and Ben a half yesterday (to keep us guessing) but if performances last night are to be taken into account, then the Pole edges it. He's the one who made saves--one of which could have won save of the season in a proper campaign. One could argue that Ben was not tested enough whilst on pitch but it must have been realised that Valencia could have scored on two or three separate occasions when Foster was either beaten or in no man's land.
Having said that, the boss' opinion is all that matters so we shall just have to watch on on Sunday with fingers crossed that an error from whoever is picked does not cost us our shield!
Let me just sign off by apologising for the long post.