Ole’s Reds are off and running in emphatic fashion. It was an exciting display on opening day to grab all three points and early bragging rights over one of the club’s many rivals, but what can we take from the performance after just one match day?
One game is way too small a sample size to make any sweeping statements. To add on to that, one game against Leeds, a particularly unique team, is even less of a sample size to make legitimate conclusions from. Is this how United are going to play the rest of the season? Impossible to say, they didn’t even have their two new signings out on the pitch.
Two years ago United thrashed Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day of the season. They followed that up with a draw to Wolves, a loss to Crystal Palace, and a draw to Southampton. Last year they lost 3-1 to Crystal Palace first time out. They finished second in the table. The first game really isn’t a predictor of anything.
2. So this is what a rested Bruno Fernandes can do
Hard to say we learned this. Last year we saw Bruno from the start of the season until Jan 1st (0.45 npG/90 and 0.52 assists/90) and then from Jan 1st through the end of the season (0.40 npG/90 and 0.28 assists/90). It was two different Bruno’s as fatigue started to set in.
Bruno has now gotten about three weeks of physical rest and more crucially 10-14 days of mental rest and suddenly he’s back to being the Bruno we all know and love. In the past, his problem was he couldn’t pass and receive (Giselle Brady knows that problem all too well), now that United have other passers in the team, it’s going to be a lot of fun seeing how dangerous Bruno can be when he doesn’t have to do everything himself. He’ll also be able to stay fresher over the course of the season.
3. Paul Pogba is a baller
Again, we already knew this. Pogba has always been at his best when he’s got two midfielders that can do the defensive work behind him. Too often over the last five years United have played the man who is better at defending then he’s given credit for but still not quite ‘good’ at it and more importantly, doesn’t want to be doing it in a position where he has to do a lot of defending.
On Saturday, Pogba was deployed ahead of the midfield with a freedom to move around the pitch. He often appeared centrally, with Bruno moving out to the left and creating confusion. The result was Pogba played like he did when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer first arrived, and Manchester United were far better because of it.
This was nearly the same XI that played a drab 0-0 draw at Elland Road back in April with two exceptions. David de Gea for Dean Henderson, and Paul Pogba instead of Marcus Rashford. You can see the difference.