Five things we learned from Manchester United's 3-1 win over San Jose
Manchester United emerged victorious from their second match of their United States tour with a 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
1. Young makes life hard for Di Maria
Angel di Maria may well be a Paris Saint-Germain player by the end of the month, with the French champions determined to sign the Argentine, but if he remains at Old Trafford, the performances of Ashley Young threaten to extend his United misery.
Young was arguably the biggest success story of Louis van Gaal’s first season in charge, with the England winger grasping the nettle and rediscovering the form that many supporters believed had deserted him.
The 30-year-old impressed with his defensive contribution and attacking threat and he continued where he left off last season by producing similar form against San Jose.
Young’s awareness saw him create the opener for Juan Mata and, if Di Maria remains at the club, he will face a battle to dislodge the former Aston Villa man.
2. Pereira is determined to take his chance
When Andreas Pereira signed a new three-year contract at Manchester United in May, there was genuine relief at Old Trafford that the Brazilian teenager had committed his future to the club.
The 19-year-old midfielder had been keen to wait for assurances that he would be given a chance by Louis van Gaal, but having been told he figured in the Dutchman’s plans, the youngster has now delivered two impressive performances on tour.
Pereira stood out as a second-half substitute against Club America and scored a classy header to put United 3-1 ahead against San Jose.
Whether he will figure much when the real action starts next month remains to be seen, but Pereira is at least grasping his opportunity in the States.
3. Ferguson does not faze Van Gaal
It is now two years since Alex Ferguson’s omnipresence at Manchester United fixtures proved a weekly distraction for David Moyes and, with the former Everton manager’s reign ultimately proving disastrous, Ferguson was conspicuous by his absence during the early stages of Louis van Gaal’s first campaign in charge.
The former United manager was in attendance in San Jose, however, and it was obvious from Van Gaal’s treatment of the Scot that he is completely comfortable in his presence.
Van Gaal back-slapped his illustrious predecessor as he appeared on the pitch at the Avaya Stadium, but there was no doubt who is now the boss.
Van Gaal occupies the stage like Moyes never could and even Ferguson cannot put the Dutchman in the shade.
4. Fellaini is paying the price for ban
Louis van Gaal has admitted that Marouane Fellaini is at the back of the queue for appearance time in the States due to a three-match ban which will rule him out of Premier League action until the end of August.
Fellaini was an unused substitute against Club America and he also did not take part against San Jose.
Van Gaal now has several midfield options following his summer spending spree, but there is a risk that Fellaini will take even longer to get up to speed when the season starts due to his peripheral role on tour.
The Belgian is eligible for the Champions League play-off next month, so it would be sensible to give him some game-time before United fly back to England.
5. In America, small can be beautiful
Manchester United will play at the $1bn Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara when they face Barcelona on Saturday, less than a year after facing Real Madrid in front of 109,000 supporters at The Big House in Michigan, but Louis van Gaal’s team will not forget the experience of this game in the 18,000 capacity Avaya Stadium.
One of the new wave of ‘soccer-specific’ stadia in the States, the Avaya opened in March at a cost of $100m and it offers proof that the Americans can do small as well as they do big.
With a backdrop of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, and jets landing 100 yards behind the goal at San Jose International Airport, the Avaya enjoys a spectacular setting, but it is also noisy and built with the fans in mind.
It also possesses the longest outdoor bar in North America, so what is there not to like?