Two months after that bitterly disappointing night in Wembley, Manchester United rounded off their successful US tour with what some may describe as a revenge victory over Barcelona at FedEx Field. Although most will acknowledge the victory came under less significant circumstances with many changes made to the starting line up that took part last time around, victory against a fairly familiar Barcelona side will nonetheless be encouraging and meant United left the USA undefeated having scored 20 goals and conceding just 3. Having scored the opening goal before half time, Barcelona struck back with a magnificent curling effort from Thiago, a player who has left people asking questions as to why Fabregas is need at the Catalan club, before Michael Owen gave United the lead late on with penalties looming. The game should have been put beyond doubt when he put Obertan’s cross over the bar from close range, but Sir Alex Ferguson will have been pleased to end the tour with a 2-1 victory, and to go home undefeated. So with that here are five things that may be taken from the game.
1) The tour has been worthwhile
Although at times the opposition has been less than challenging, particularly in the opening games, most will admit the tour of the States has been highly successful as a build up to the new season, giving many squad players a chance to impress as well as providing everyone with time to improve their fitness and take in some match practice before the challenges that await domestically. An undefeated run will have given Sir Alex Ferguson reason to smile and the fact that so many put in effective displays will have made for positive viewing going in to the new season.
2) Danny Welbeck may stake a claim for regular action
With such an impressive assist for the opening goal, and with strong performances from United’s attacking force all round, one must wonder why Ferguson has been linked with yet another striker during the transfer window. With some producing fine performances, the potential for a selection headache is looking quite high and Welbeck will have added to that on Sunday morning, notably playing a sublime through ball, with a razor sharp Nani sprinting on to it, beating the offside trap and finishing through the legs of Valdes.
3) Nani should only play on the right
Nani has set out his claim for a regular starting place as well, putting in effective and strong performances when called upon on this tour, clearly putting the disappointment of not starting in the Champion’s League final behind him. It has been clear for a long time that his preferred position is out on the right, putting in noticeably better performances when occupying the right flank. This gives strong competition for a place on the right with Antonio Valencia and it will be interesting to see how Ferguson utilises their different strengths with the more traditional style of Valencia versus the more flair type that is Nani. One must wonder if there is any benefit of playing Nani more centrally, given his attacking potential.
4) Fabio made the most of his game time
After a crunching tackle involving Keita that meant Rafael had to go off, his twin brother Fabio was brought on to replace him at right back, a literal like for like substitution. Indeed Fabio put in an efficient displaying preventing Guardiola’s side from progressing down their left flank, as did the rest of the defense that meant David De Gea was rarely troubled throughout the match.
5) No conclusions about De Gea
As mentioned, David De Gea was left fairly quiet throughout the game, rarely called upon and left with no chance when the highly talented Thiago placed a superb curling shot past him to equalise. So the jury is still out on the ‘keeper believed to be Van Der Sar’s long-term successor. Many United fans will hope he is the real deal and the proof will come in the regular grind of the new season. Whilst both Lindegaard and Amos have had the chance to impress more on tour, one must assume that with such high investment in the young Spaniard that he will automatically be the main choice come the new season.