By Harry Ogilvie
- Lukaku at the double
- Martial and Pogba join Belgium striker on scoresheet
After every other Premier League side had played, Manchester United faced a refreshed West Ham with several new faces.
Jose Mourinho would sure want to send out a statement after a disappointing Super Cup result and after some of the top six dropped some potentially important points.
Jose’s mindset was reflected in his first team selection. Starting both Juan Mata and Mkhitaryan, as well as Lukaku and Rashford.
This choice sure would have excited United fans. However, some may have been left disappointed hoping to see Anthony Martial start.
This had little effect on the result. As he came on and staked his claim for a starting spot with some superb contributions despite not being in the starting eleven.
Some players making the first appearance of the season included Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Juan Mata. Who all missed out on an appearance against Real Madrid in the Super Cup.
Lukaku Bags First League Strike For United
Manchester United looked rejuvenated and began the game well. Dominating possession and playing some great football.
It was not until the 33rd minute that United took the lead through summer signing, Romelu Lukaku. Who also scored against Real the week before.
Nemanja Matic, another summer signing was also heavily involved in the goal.
He efficiently dispossessed Pedro Obiang in the middle of the park and gave the ball to Marcus Rashford. Who played the incisive pass through to Lukaku who smashed the ball off the post and into the net.
Manchester United continued to threaten after the goal but went in at half-time only 1-0 up.
Their efforts paid off in the second half. When the Belgian powerhouse bagged his second of the game with a glancing header past Joe Hart to put the Reds 2-0 up.
United were playing some of their best football since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. The Red Devil’s were finally playing some seriously scintillating, exciting football which had been missed in recent seasons.
The football pleased United fans as the team continued to press for more goals despite being 2-0 up.
West Ham collapsed in the dying minutes as Martial raced through on goal after a flowing move from United and tucked the ball past Joe Hart.
Three minutes later Paul Pogba would score a fourth, bending the ball around the England number one.
The scoreline hardly flattered United as they were the dominant side throughout the game.
They could easily have scored another two or three with Lukaku nearly scoring a hat-trick. Rashford cracking the post and Mata squaring the ball instead of tucking it away.
Matic Amazes In The Middle Of Midfield
The Serbian midfielder looked terrific on his Premier League debut for Manchester United. Stroking the ball around with speed and purpose, in addition to the running and dribbling he did. Matic ran over 11km in 90 minutes.
A big part of that running was when he won the ball and played Rashford forward and then took the other defender away to allow space for Lukaku to run through a bury his second goal.
The way he kept the ball and showed such composure and elegance on the ball was brilliant. Based on his appearances for the club so far, many believe he could be “signing of the summer”.
Both Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte and Chelsea fans were not left best pleased when the deep lying midfielder left the club.
His partnership with Paul Pogba was also something to be admired today. The pair looked to be completely unphased by whatever faced them.
Both sprayed the ball around comfortably and looked to pass forward whenever possible, which is something United struggled with last year.
The Belgian Bags A Brace
Romelu Lukaku was the other Premier League debutant and impressed many with his performance and link up play.
The 24 year old looked dangerous from the first time he got the ball. Nipping in front of the West Ham defender on the halfway line and proceeded to sprint down the line and win a corner.
The finish for his first goal was nothing short of exceptional as he hit the ball with power and precision off the post and in after some excellent work from Matic and Rashford.
He earned praise from former Arsenal star, Thierry Henry and Manchester United legend, Gary Neville.
Henry described his start as “amazing” and Neville was quick to echo the Premier League legend’s thoughts saying he was “outstanding”.
Martial Impresses in Short Time On Pitch
Other performances worth mentioning came from Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Phil Jones. And of course, the ever consistent, Antonio Valencia.
Marcus Rashford constantly looked dangerous with some great take ons, passes and shots on goal.
His best contribution was obviously his defence splitting assist for Lukaku’s second goal. But he also hit a superb shot after beating the defender and cutting in to bend a near perfect shot off the post.
Fellow Englishman, Phil Jones also deserves praise after consistently putting his body on the line with some solid challenges and tackles. As well as, making an effort to read the game and break up several lacklustre West Ham attacks.
Anthony Martial may not have started but he definitely staked his claim for a starting berth in the next game.
He only came on in the 80th minute and was instantly involved in the action. Managing both a goal and an assist before the final whistle.
The build up play for his goal was accurate and incisive. Before his cool, calm and composed finish beyond the ex-City goalkeeper.
Martial also played the pass inside to Pogba that led to his goal and looked to be heavily involved in all that was good about United in the closing 10 minutes.
Valencia Key Player For United
Antonio Valencia was also unsurprisingly good, doing what he does best. Getting up and down the wing at great speed with great power.
The Ecuadorian fired in some threatening crosses and never looked like losing the ball whenever in possession. Using his strength to hold off any immediate pressure.
Ultimately though, man of the match had to go to Nemanja Matic despite every United player putting in a performance worth at least a 7/10 rating.
Matic was everything Mourinho wanted and needed from a player playing his role. This was quite simply a flawless debut from the former Chelsea man.
The Manager’s View
The Boss was gracious in victory saying “I don’t think the game was 4-0 but you score the third and you breathe and relax and play with more confidence. It was a difficult game for us.”
He also critiqued his side’s performance saying “We didn’t start especially well, maybe we were a bit nervous, but then we had a quality performance, good personality and word which I like: confidence.”
Jose said he “was happy” and said “it was a very positive performance”.
However, he was quick to point out the fact he would not get carried away when he said “the fact we start with a win and are top of the league means nothing. Last season we were top after the first match so it means nothing,”
Although, the current league position means “nothing” to him, he did say “the level of performance means something” to him.
The gaffer also pointed to the progress his side has made since last season saying “we lost two points against West Ham last season” in this same fixture “and had lots of similar matches where we were dominant but didn’t score enough goals. Today we did and we got three important points.”
It may only be the first day of the season, but today’s match definitely feels like a statement from Mourinho to the rest of the league after Liverpool and Chelsea failed to win and other members of the top six stumbled to victory.
I think Jose Mourinho wants to prove the world wrong and show Manchester United will reach the top again.
I definitely think should United bring in a full back and/or a high quality winger, the league is definitely within range. And even if we do not, I think we are still capable of challenging with our depth and range of tactical options.