In what was set to be a new test for Manchester United, given the sweltering heat in which they would be hosted, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men maintained their 100% winning record on their US tour with a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Fire. Despite the comfortable appearance of the score-line, it may well be agreed that this was United’s most disappointing performance on tour so far, struggling for the best part of an hour which could have seen them worse than the goal down that had already been conceded in the first half. However, with a host of changes at half time, the deficit was overturned with Rooney, Rafael and Nani finding their way on to the scoresheet. And so with this, here are five things that may be taken from the game.
1) Some are lacking match fitness
This is not made to be a point of criticism, as some within the side that played against Chicago will have not had any pre-season matches as yet and naturally take time to settle. For example, Dimitar Berbatov and Phil Jones both having recently joined the tour will have lacked some sharpness and this showed in areas of the game where United failed to take control as they had done in previous games and struggled to find their edge. Nonetheless this is what pre-season aims to do so that the cobwebs may be shaken off and a slightly rusty squad will have hopefully become a well oiled machine by the time the first kick off of the new season takes place. Although Jones may have felt he could have done better after getting beaten to a header when the first goal was conceded, it was important to get a solid game in as part of settling in to a new club and will come into his own as the season moves forward and he continues to improve.
2) David De Gea made his debut
After his much-publicised move to Old Trafford this Summer, United fans will have been keen to see Van Der Sar’s successor in action off the heels of an impressive under-21 championship for Spain. The game against Chicago Fire marked his first in a United kit and showed glimpses of what he is capable of, notably on approach to half time with a feet-first save on a goal-bound effort. Naturally from one appearance fans will not be able to gauge much about their latest goalkeeping acquisition, but a solid debut was important in establishing a good start in what Ferguson will hope to be a long career behind the back four at Manchester United.
3) Nani and Rafael impressed on the right
With question marks hanging over the future of Nani at United this Summer, particularly with the arrival of Ashley Young, it will have been positive to see the young Portuguese winger get on the scoresheet with a coolly taken finish that defied the heat. Finishing with his classic exuberant celebration will have put a smile on the faces of those fans wishing to continue to see Nani at Old Trafford, with many believing deservedly so after one of his most impressive seasons in his United career. Next season could also be a big year for Rafael, as the first full season without Gary Neville approaches and coming off the back of a season that saw the Brazilian continue to improve, many will be interested to see how he and his brother develop next year. An impressive showing against Chicago was capped by a burst in to the box with a cheeky nutmeg finish from a tight angle to give United the lead in the second half.
4) Rooney is looking sharp
Wayne Rooney carried on his rich form on the tour with another goal with a smartly taken chip to bring the game on level terms. Rooney has impressed in the games in which he has featured, following his hat trick against Seattle Sounders. Such a sharp, effective showing is a positive sign of things to come, as fans will be anxious for him to be firing on all cylinders and leading the charge for a possible 20th league title next season.
5) Established signing or stick to youth?
With all that has been said regarding potential big money signings in the midfield area, particularly one Wesley Sneijder, one must wonder whether or not Sir Alex Ferguson will instead opt for using other options available. For example, if Fletcher were to regain his fitness it would be a major boost to the midfield, with the impressive Tom Cleverley also in with a chance of regular games for the coming months. Finally the possibility of Jones having a defensive midfield role is one that may not be ruled out. The benefit of this tour is that such systems and ideas can be put into practice without repercussion and may bode well if this were to be implemented when it all begins to count in August.