Not that the Chevrolet Cup and the International Champions Cup will matter when accolades are tallied next May, but for a side that was a pale shadow of itself last season, they might just do a world of a difference to their confidence. More than anything, it is the manner in which United have dispatched top class opposition that will encourage fans ahead of the big kickoff.
16 goals in 5 games, with just the 4 conceded largely from the penalty spot, has made for arguably the best pre season preparation in quite a while. After dispatching LA Galaxy, AS Roma, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, United were expected to meet their first real test in Liverpool, who would provide a bit of what to expect in the domestic schedule next term. Resistance they got, as Liverpool started sharper, brighter, causing panic in the United defence whenever they got forward. The early pressure resulted into a 4th penalty for Liverpool vs United in the last 103 minutes of football againt them.
It was notable in that first half how uncomfortable the back 3 were with the ball. Darren Fletcher did not help matters with a poor passing display. The Scott however cannot be expected to put in 2 great shifts in 2 days after what be has been through medically. The same excuse cannot go for the defence though. Inexperience between Evans, Jones and Smalling is the reason we need at least one more experienced defender before the window closes.
At the other end, Hernandez missed our only real chance of an otherwise poor first half. The Mexican did provide the assist for the leveller in the second period but he did little to make a case for himself as far as nudging ahead of Danny Welbeck in the pecking order. It is already appafent that the hold up play provided by Danny is quite a complement to LVG's system of play.
Normal service was resumed in the second half however as the introduction of Tyler Blackett restored the much needed composure at the back. United were now able to pass it calmly from behind as the system dictates. Rooney got United level before Mata turned the game on its head. The Spaniard has really flourished in his favourite number 10 position. He is one of those destined for a steller season ahead. Jesse Lingaard added a third late on to add fuel to the argument that he deserves his chance in the United team having done it on pre season twice, on loan and obviously for the reserve side. I really hope he gets it this season.
Perhaps though, the most important pointer in the game was the difference a new manager is going to make for us this season. United have not played as badly and trailed at halftime on tour before. We were in such a position countless times last season and yet hardly improved. Changes were never made to alter the course of a game radically. At halftime tonight, LVG made the change to the defence, and change to the midfield that we could not pinpoint but wanted. We were not certain of Blackett's composure on the ball as compared to, say, Evans but he was aware and brought on the youngster to that exact effect. The withdrawal of Fletcher as well made for a better ball distribution and accuracy. In effect, that is all that was needed to convert a 1-0 deficit to a 2-1 lead in the blink of an eye.
I've already blogged that some of the opposition we have faced on tour is the toughest we shall face for a year, but it was important to beat Liverpool in this fixture if only for the fact it will give the players a huge confidence boost ahead of the season. The first 7 or 8 games of the season are very winnable, so it sets us up for a very good start to the season if the players can take this form to Manchester.
Exciting football, exciting times again. Next up is a friendly vs Valencia, back home (thankfully, given the time schedules of US fixtures) which should be a dress rehearsal to how we shall line up the following Saturday to kick off the campaign.
Onwards and Upwards!