With Manchester United having spent more money in the transfer window thus far than any other Premier League club, the pressure is on their new signings to hit the ground running as Louis van Gaal prepares to mount a serious title challenge in addition to a strong European campaign.
That's providing United make it through their play-off round against Belgian side Club Brugge later this month, of course.
So, with defending champions Chelsea and FA Cup holders Arsenal both slipping up at home over the opening weekend of the new season, it's only fair to assess the performances of United’s five new boys after the Red Devils toiled to an unspectacular 1-0 victory over Tottenham at Old Trafford last weekend.
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Amid all the speculation regarding United’s goalkeeping situation, Sergio Romero had a lot of positive moments in goal and kept a well-earned clean sheet on his debut.
Although his distribution at times wasn’t at the level of the world-class David de Gea, and despite there being a few communication issues between himself and the back four, Romero’s natural shot-stopping ability came to the fore late on in the game as he made two vital saves, including a marvellous stop from a powerful Christian Eriksen strike.
With the futures of De Gea and his compatriot Victor Valdes currently uncertain, the man who started last year’s World Cup final for Argentina showed that as he continues to settle in and gel with his new teammates, he could be United’s first-choice goalkeeper in time if need be.
It’s very unusual for a full-back to spark as much excitement amongst fans as Matteo Darmian did following a fantastic display at Old Trafford.
Due to high tempo of the game nowadays, most full-backs in the modern game care more about their attacking capabilities than their defensive responsibilities, and hence are often exposed by wingers, but the 25-year-old Italian, signed for £12.7million from Torino, showed great proficiency in his defensive work.
Darmian’s reading of the game was second to none, he was never caught out positionally, looking particularly impressive in one-on-one situations against the likes of Harry Kane, and he also provided great support for Juan Mata going forward down the right-hand side.
His athleticism and energy levels were noticeable in hot conditions, and not only was he voted the Man of the Match by United’s fans, who gave him a standing ovation as he was substituted off, but he received rave reviews from boss Van Gaal after the match to boot.
If anyone was under any doubt as to the stature of Bastian Schweinsteiger, they saw how appreciated he was by the Old Trafford faithful as he received one of the biggest ovations of the day by merely emerging from the bench to begin warming up on the touchline.
The reception for a man who has won it all in club football was even bigger when he came on for Michael Carrick, and instantly you could see the immense leadership qualities he possesses as he visibly began to instruct other United players whilst they were in possession of the ball.
The German captain also showed his eye for goal on his debut as he ventured on occasions into the Tottenham penalty area during some of United’s attacks, reminiscent of midfield goalscoring legend Frank Lampard.
Schweinsteiger is already a huge fan favourite, his new teammates have praised him for his humour and humility off the pitch, and if he can prove his fitness; which has been questioned recently by his former boss Pep Guardiola, there’s no doubt that the Bayern Munich legend can become a hero for United.
From the first few minutes of the game it became blatantly obvious that Schneiderlin was a great fit for this new-look United team.
The Frenchman seemed unfazed by the occasion, playing his natural game alongside Carrick in the middle of park and displayed some classy touches, a willingness to receive the ball deep in United’s half and a brilliant range of passing in his first game for the club.
He’s thought of as a defensive-midfielder, but what was pleasantly noticeable was Schneiderlin’s all-round game. He provided an energy and a combative nature to United’s midfield that suggested that his signing from Southampton could be the most crucial of all.
During the 21 year-old’s debut performance for United it was clear that he was eager to impress and, although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, Memphis Depay picked up where he left off during United’s pre-season tour of America as he continued to develop a promising understanding with captain Wayne Rooney and showed glimpses of the pace, trickery, power and vision that has had all United fans buzzing.
Depay is an extremely confident young man, but he has the ability to back it up, and after being granted his wish to sport the famous no. 7 shirt, worn by icons such as Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and most recently Angel Di Maria, don’t be surprised if he goes on to be United’s stand out performer this season.
United fans, who do you think has been Van Gaal's best buy of the summer? Let us know in the comments box below.
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