Pre-season victories are no sure indicators of season form – and in Manchester United’s case fans and club alike would be very cautious despite beating Porto and Ajax with largely second string teams (and in the case of Ajax, mostly with players who had been playing in the reserves last year.
Tonight’s win was a scrappy one, the sort you had come to expect of United in their title-winning seasons – a solid defensive performance (aided by a penalty save from Edwin van der Sar) and a promising overall display with the only goal of the game coming through a Giggs’ free kick.
The only low point for United would be Carrick’s injury. It looked like a hamstring pull, and although there are fears that he might miss a month, I’m betting that Carrick could make a return as soon as against Fulham. Seeing Carrick on crutches at the ceremony after the match wasn’t a pretty sight, so we really don’t know when he’ll be back.
Carrick joins O’Shea, Neville, Ferdinand, Heinze and Vidic on the injury list, although all of them (apart from Carrick) should be fit for Fulham. What will worry Ferguson though is that this season United will be fully focused on avoiding a repeat of the last two years where the team was plagued with injuries at start of the campaign.
Seeing Giggs play once again in the midfield, my feeling is that his days as a goalscorer are limited – Ferguson will be looking towards Giggs more and more to provide a creative impetus to the team, either from the left flank or if necessary, from central midfield.
Anyone see Park play today? The guy looked lost…Lee Martin had a much better game, and is another prospect for the future. Richardson though, needs to add some physical strength to his repertoire – he’s got pace and ability but if he can’t keep the ball and worse, if he can’t beat the opposition defender one on one (Charlton defenders don’t count), he’s not much good for us.
Coming up soon – a look at United’s young crop of players, including 18-year old Jonny Evans who had a dream debut for Manchester United, easily being their best player on the pitch and defending very, very well. If this is United’s future, we’re in safe hands.