Business as usual was very much the message emanating from Old Trafford as David Moyes began his first Premier League campaign at Manchester United with victory. The champions will be pleased to return from South Wales with three points and a ringing endorsement of what has been labelled as a seamless transition from the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Winning on the road without hitting top gear was a regular occurrence under Ferguson, and indeed it was his ensemble of players lining up in a familiar way that plundered the spoils at the Liberty Stadium. There is little requirement to ring the changes to a side that eased to their 20th league title last time round, and this was evident in Moyes’ approach to the season opener.
Stalwart of Ferguson’s time at the helm, Ryan Giggs, was selected in central midfield, while the defensive pairing of Rio Ferdinand and captain Nemanja Vidic was the formidable proposition brought together by the Scot. His final marquee signing, Robin van Persie, showed the new boss exactly what he can expect over the coming nine months, firing in two fine efforts.
Moyes had revealed his demand of more goals from Danny Welbeck, telling the 22-year-old that much better than last season’s solitary league strike is expected of a Manchester United striker. The England international duly obliged, and the composure demonstrated in delightfully chipping Michel Vorm for his second was particularly welcome.
There is a well-established winning mentality at Old Trafford, and the eleven players that took to the field on Saturday are well versed in this philosophy, as is the new manager. Moyes told the club’s website: “When
Getting off to a good start against the League Cup winners was vital in the face of some difficult early fixtures, and this perhaps explains the selections the manager made. There was no place in the team for new boy Wilfried Zaha, who was an unused substitute having impressed on United’s pre-season tour. Moyes opted for Antonio Valencia on the right, who is seeking to recapture the form that made him an automatic choice for long periods over the last four years under Ferguson.
The former Everton boss was also diplomatic on the Wayne Rooney issue, giving the unsettled forward half an hour. Rooney was afforded a good reception by the Reds’ travelling support, and looked lean and sharp, assisting United’s final two goals, the second a nicely weighted through ball that was perfect for Welbeck to apply his finish.
Moyes will of course in time imprint himself and his style on the club, starting with his preference for a tracksuit in the dugout in a departure from Ferguson’s traditional donning of a suit and tie. However for the time being, there is little to meddle with as United seek to defend their crown in the face of stern challenges from Chelsea and Manchester City.
Many supporters would like a new face to be brought in before the transfer window shuts, but United boast a squad that is diverse and has depth. Moyes will be looking forward to getting the most out of his pool of talent after an encouraging start to life at Old Trafford.
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