Manchester United’s new-look team served up a dynamic attacking display in the 4-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, raising hopes of plenty more exciting football from the Reds this season.
It was a commanding display of attacking prowess and the matchday squad showcased van Gaal’s impressive armoury of forward options for the first time. Radamel Falcao had to settle for a place on the bench before making his first appearance as a substitute. But the terrace anthem in his honour – sung heartily throughout – highlights how excited fans are to see one of the game’s most lauded finishers in action.
The Colombian striker arrived in Manchester with a strike rate of 0.62 goals per game to his name and while he had just one half-chance against QPR, which was saved by Rob Green, it doesn’t appear that he will need many more invitations to find the net. He has already impressed in training, with van Gaal saying last week: “He had one chance [in his first session] and it was in the goal.”
Robin van Persie, too, is a prolific marksman and boasts a record of 48 goals in 79 appearances for United, while Wayne Rooney is chasing goalscoring records for club and country. The skipper’s strike in the win over QPR took his Reds tally to 218 – he is third in United’s all-time list of top goalscorers.
It’s not just the players spearheading United’s attack that pose a threat, however. Angel Di Maria produced a sparkling home debut on Sunday. He arrived at Old Trafford boasting 49 assists in four seasons at Real Madrid, including 17 in 2013/14, which was the best return in any of Europe’s top five leagues. In his first home game for United he scored one and played a part in all four goals.
Ander Herrera, who scored the Reds’ second against QPR, said of Di Maria: “Angel is one of the best players in the world. Manchester United always has to have top players and he is one of the best.”
Juan Mata, who also chipped in to Sunday’s sauntering success, is on a run of nine goals in 11 games in competitive action for United, a sequence that extends backs to March last season. Even in the Under-21s on Monday, Adnan Januzaj produced a performance that hammered on the first-team door, scoring three goals in a 4-0 win over Sunderland. And while young James Wilson has suffered with injuries so far this season, he scored twice on his United debut late last season and hit four against Manchester City in the Manchester Senior Cup final last month.
As van Gaal prepares his squad for the visit to Leicester, the challenge once again is finding places in his team to fit those attacking talents into the equation – one thing he isn’t lacking is a list of players who can create and score goals with great regularity. Before last weekend, the boss told his players, “Let’s make a new start.” And he will hope his players have started as they mean to go on.
Daley Blind is delighted to be working under Louis van Gaal at Manchester United and insists his former Netherlands manager will make him a better player this season.
The Dutchman made his Reds debut as a deep-lying midfielder during Sunday’s 4-0 win over QPR and can’t wait to see what the future holds for him at Old Trafford, where he can absorb the knowledge and expertise of van Gaal.
“He is very honest to everybody, he knows what he wants and he knows his philosophy,” Blind explained, while speaking to ManUtd.com after the final whistle. “He can bring that to the players and he can make a team with everybody. That is a good start for us if you want to work for each other. I have really learned a lot from van Gaal and I like working under him.
“I haven’t worked that long with him. I only worked with him at the World Cup and in the qualification games. A lot of the time I worked with Frank de Boer at Ajax and I think Ajax made me more the player I am now. Of course, I was with van Gaal at the World Cup. He also helped me a lot and I have learned a lot from him. I hope to learn a lot from him in the next season as well.
“I think he can make me a better player in terms of positioning, where to stand and tactics in games because midfield is an important position to play. I hope I can get better at it every day.”
While pleased with his first performance for United, Blind is determined to improve his understanding of the holding midfielder role in a division that is much faster than he is used to.
“It was a bit different because the opponents were going back so I had a lot of space to control the ball and play it to the sides, mixing it from side to side. I had a lot of space and that was nice for me. We played our own game and we played well. When we lost the ball we went after it as a team. We won the ball back a lot, so we did a good job.
“Of course it was a higher tempo and I can feel that also in my legs, but I can play 90 minutes and it was okay. I have only played in the Dutch league and in international football, but I think the Premier League is a higher level and there is a higher speed in the game.”
Asked how the new signings are settling in, Blind spoke of a positive team spirit that has eased his introduction: “When I came here there was a really warm welcome and I felt directly good in the team. Also, Robin [van Persie] helped me a lot because I know him from the Dutch squad.
“But I have also been helped by the other guys who came in straight away. Everybody wants to fight for each other and I think we saw that in this game. Everyone wants to give the ball to each other and I like to play in this squad.”
Radamel Falcao says he wants to stay at Manchester United and become a legend at the club.
Radamel Falcao has thanked Manchester United’s fans for the boisterous welcome that soundtracked his debut in Sunday’s 4-0 win over QPR – including prolonged renditions of a new terrace anthem in his honour.
The Colombian loan signing was named on the bench by Louis van Gaal and did not emerge from the dugout until the 56th minute, when his much-anticipated warm-up was greeted by rapturous applause from every Reds supporter inside Old Trafford.
Falcao’s eventual introduction, as a replacement for Juan Mata just after the hour, was met by an even bigger ovation that lit up the stadium. While the 28-year-old was disappointed not to score on his debut, he was delighted by the reception he received.
“I am very happy for this victory and the support was great,” he said. “I want to continue that way. I want to say thank you to the fans and I enjoyed that a lot, this match. It was fantastic. I almost scored. The goalkeeper was good. I hope to score the next game.
“It felt good to make my debut here at Old Trafford and I am happy to get the win. I am enjoying this moment. It is an extraordinary stadium, a legendary stadium. Bit by bit, we will gel together as a team and the new players will feel more comfortable. I hope everything continues for us like it has.”
On Manutd.com, Ander Herrera has praised the impact of Manchester United’s debutants during Sunday’s 4-0 win over QPR, paying particular attention to Angel Di Maria following his spectacular maiden outing at Old Trafford.
Di Maria scored the opening goal with a slightly fortuitous free-kick, before having a hand in further strikes for Herrera, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata as the Reds cruised to a comfortable first Barclays Premier League victory of the season.
Fellow summer signings Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao also took their first-team bows and Herrera was suitably impressed by their performances.
Speaking to MUTV after the final whistle, the Spaniard explained why the future is bright for United. “Angel is one of the best players in the world. Manchester United always has to have top players and he is one of the best.
“We have Radamel Falcao as well, with Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw. I think we have a new team but we are improving, we are working hard and we are looking forward to this season.”
Quizzed specifically on the performances of Rojo and Blind, Herrera said: “I think they played very good football, they had some very good passes and always kept the ball.
“Marcos is very, very aggressive and this is important for the team. Blind never loses the ball and we are happy, but of course we have to improve still.”
Herrera was also delighted to score his first goal for United with a low strike in the 36th minute, a moment he admits he will treasure. However, the former Athletic Club star insists the team’s victory is more important than his personal moment of glory.
“I am happy, of course,” Ander explained. “It is important to make a goal at Old Trafford, one of the best stadiums in the world. I am happy for my goal but I am happier because we won.
“I wish it can be our first step and I am sure is it. The next games are very important because we want to be as soon as possible at the top of the league.”
Manchester United sealed a first win of the 2014/15 season on Sunday – and in some style – as the Reds, inspired by new signing Angel Di Maria, romped to a 4-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford.
Di Maria, playing his first match for the Reds in front of the home crowd, was in sizzling form throughout and kicked off the scoring on 24 minutes with a curling free-kick. He played a part in United’s second goal from Ander Herrera, before Wayne Rooney added a third before half-time. Di Maria then set up Juan Mata for a fourth after almost an hour.
It was a day of debuts at Old Trafford as Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao, who began the game on the bench, all made their United bows. There were also welcome returns from injury for Rafael and Herrera, while there was a return of a different sort as Rio Ferdinand came back for his first match since his summer departure. In tribute to 12 years of service, the defender was presented with a memento of his time at United by Sir Bobby Charlton before kick-off.
Despite having begun his tenure as United boss with three at the back, Louis van Gaal opted to switch to a tried-and-tested back four with Rafael, Jonny Evans, Tyler Blackett and Rojo the chosen ones. Blind sat just in front of them with Herrera, Di Maria and Mata ahead in a diamond midfield formation, while Rooney and Robin van Persie were up front.
It was Rooney who began the move to create the first real opening of the game on seven minutes with a lovely cross-field pass to Rafael on the right. He slipped the ball to Herrera who found Mata, but the Spaniard blasted over from just inside the box. But after a spell of good possession, the Reds took the lead on 24 minutes through Di Maria. The British record signing curled a free-kick from the right into the box and it evaded everyone, including QPR keeper Rob Green, as the ball sailed in at the far post.
Van Gaal’s men were determined to keep the pressure on and after Herrera had a penalty appeal turned down following a tackle from Clint Hill, van Persie headed over. United and David De Gea in particular breathed a sigh of relief at the other end when the stopper came rushing from goal to intercept Niko Krancjar’s pass over the top to Matt Phillips. De Gea was thankful to have Evans on hand to block Phillips’ effort on an empty goal.
Di Maria threatened every time he had possession and it was his bursting run forward that led to United’s second goal nine minutes from the break. As the Argentinian reached the box he slipped a pass to Rooney and after his initial shot was blocked, he teed up Herrera to drill low shot into the bottom corner for his first competitive goal for the Reds. And the game was all but over as a contest on the stroke of half-time as excellent link-up play between Mata and Herrera led to Rooney receiving a pass from the latter before powering home a low drive.
The Reds weren’t about to settle for three goals and after De Gea saved well with his feet from Krancjar early in the second period, Mata and Rooney both went close. The Spaniard made no mistake on 58 minutes though when, after being found by Di Maria, he smashed home from close range. It might have been five when Falcao entered the fray on 67 minutes and was denied a debut goal six minutes from time as he followed up on Blind’s 30-yard drive which had been parried clear by Green. The QPR keeper recovered well to block the chance and also kept out substitute Adnan Januzaj late on.
Overall, it was a job well done by the Reds with attacking play aplenty, goals, a clean sheet and, most importantly, a first win of the season.
Team news: United still have a lengthy injury list, with nine players ruled out of Sunday’s clash – Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, Sam Johnstone, Jesse Lingard, James Wilson, Reece James and now Phil Jones. The latter was taken off with a knock in England’s 2-0 win over Switzerland, but Ander Herrera is back in contention having recovered from an ankle problem. Van Gaal has confirmed Luke Shaw “is fit enough to play but not the whole game,” and he could be one of several debutants alongside Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao while Angel Di Maria is set for his maiden home game.
QPR are without the injured Aleandro Faurlin but have been bolstered by deadline-day arrivals Niko Kranjcar and Sandro.
Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao has set his sights on earning a permanent deal at Old Trafford and aims to stay at the club for the best years of his career and make history in England.
Falcao, 28. has joined the former Premier League champions on a season-long loan and United have the option to purchase him after that.
And the Colombia international, who could make his United debut against QPR on Sunday, described the switch to Old Trafford as his dream move and hopes his days as a wanderer are over.
The former River Plate, Porto and Atletico Madrid forward is playing for his fifth club since 2009 and said in a news conference: “I hope to stay many years at Manchester United and make history at this club.
“When I was in Porto and Atletico Madrid, I always want to improve and I dream of playing in a team like this and now I want to stay here for many years.
“I believe in this project. I think Manchester United is the best club for my style of play and I am sure about my decision. This project in the future will be great for us.”
United only finished seventh in the Premier League last season and are yet to win under new manager Louis van Gaal but Falcao is convinced their fortunes will change.
He added: “I think Manchester United build a big team this season and in future seasons and I would like to be here and part of his project. I am happy to be here.”
Falcao missed the World Cup after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in January but shrugged off fears his knee problems will hinder him.
He said: “I feel well. I started to play two months ago with Monaco and I have improved a lot in the last months. I score goals. That is important to strikers and I am confident with my physical condition. I am comfortable with my knee.”
Falcao has a record of starting well with new clubs and believes it will not take him long to adapt to life at Old Trafford.
He explained: “I don’t think I will need too much time because Manchester United have very good players and [for] that reason [it] is easier to play football and I am used to life in cities like this. I think I don’t have a problem for adaptation.
“I have had a great welcome. When you talk about a settling-in period when you are surrounded by top players it makes settling in all the easier.”
In an interview with Manutd.com, Ryan Giggs insists Manchester United will never abandon the club’s tradition of developing young players and turning them into first-team stars, despite the recent sale of Danny Welbeck to Barclays Premier League rivals Arsenal.
The 23-year-old England international and former Academy graduate swapped Old Trafford for the Emirates Stadium on transfer deadline day with Colombian hotshot Radamel Falcao effectively replacing him in Louis van Gaal’s squad.
While it is always sad to see a local lad moving on, particularly one who has been with the club since he was a child, Giggs has quashed suggestions the Reds have given up on a famed youth policy that allowed him to graduate from the Class of ‘92’.
“United will never change,” Giggs explained at Soccerex, an annual conference that has brought more of football’s movers and shakers to Manchester. “The history of the club is to play exciting football, give youngsters a chance and keep to its traditions.
“Okay, Danny Welbeck has left but this is a manager [van Gaal] who gave Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Thomas Muller their chances. Tyler Blackett has played every game so far this season. We also have Adnan Januzaj and James Wilson.
“Players will leave but we have to make sure youngsters come through. United fans demand it. We are proud of our youth system. That’s what separates us from a lot of other clubs, we always give young players a chance.
“I hope another ‘Class of 92′ comes through but the world is changing, and the young players coming through now might not be from Salford, even if you wish they were. They might be like Rafael da Silva from Brazil who has been with us from the age of 15.”
Nicky Butt, also speaking at the Soccerex event, echoed a similar sentiment and explained that work is being done to maintain the club’s rich history of promoting from within.
“The Welbeck thing is just something that came at a certain time and so people are saying the club has forgotten about its history,” Butt explained. “We’ve got a manager who is a proven winner, but it [United] is a short-term thing for him.
“He has signed a three-year deal and is going to be here for that length of time. The club’s priority now is to win things so, unfortunately, other things take a step back. But there are people working all the hours God sends to bring kids through.”