What we learned from Manchester United's Champions league playoff

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Manchester United managed to put four goals past Club Brugge on Wednesday night. A trio of goals from captain Wayne Rooney, plus one from Ander Herrera, set the Red Devils on course for a return to the Champions League.

It was undoubtedly the best performance of season so far and here are a couple of points that made United click so well.

Wayne Rooney is back

Before Wednesday, Rooney was torn to bits by the media. The Englishman had admittedly put in some lacklustre performances during his first four games, leading some to question his ability. Well, Wayne sure did hit back at those critics.


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The England captain led the line extremely well against Brugge. Rooney was constantly on the shoulder of the last defender, making incisive runs in behind. It was his movement that gave Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, and Ander Herrera a constant option to play through for the goals.

Rooney’s overall play was also noticeably improved. United’s number ten displayed a budding partnership with new boy Memphis as the two combined well on more than one occasion.

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Rooney has always been a streaky goalscorer and with a hat trick under his belt, expect this reinvigorated forward to terrorise Swansea on the weekend.

Pivotal Herrera 

Absent from the starting eleven for some time now, Ander Herrera finally got his chance to impress from the start. And at first, things did not look to be going his way. He conceded possession multiple times in the early exchanges and looked rusty from his lack of match time.

However, his position switch to number ten paid great dividends for the Spaniard. In attacking midfield, Herrera was free to roam the field and unlike the other central midfielders at the club, Herrera offered dynamism.

The midfielder quickens the tempo of United’s possession with his swift pass and move style. Herrera was also the only midfielder capable of beating his man with a change of pace. His ability to get by his man, created openings for his teammates to exploit.

Herrera’s speeding up of the Red Devil’s passing played a pivotal role in Rooney’s return to goalscoring form. With the ball being worked upfield far quicker, Brugge’s defence was given less time to react thus allowing Rooney space to get in behind.

It also has to be said that Herrera outperformed Adnan Januzaj in the number ten role. Januzaj seemed weak on the ball as he is constantly shoved off it as a result of his slight frame. Herrera is one who also has a slender body, but still managed to protect the ball with surprising strength.

If Louis van Gaal wants a performance anywhere near the one most recently on display, Herrera needs to start.

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Ander Herrera
UEFA Champions League
Wayne Rooney
Premier League
Manchester United

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