Manchester United kicked off their Premier League campaign in style with a 5-1 win against Leeds United at Old Trafford.
It was the perfect start for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side who were inspired by the performances of Bruno Fernandes who grabbed a hat-trick and Paul Pogba who assisted in four of the five goals.
Overall it was the perfect day for the returning Manchester United fans and signalled their intent as they look to fight for the Premier League title.
Manchester United Kick Season Off in Style
Bruno Fernandes Will Be Key to Manchester United’s Success
The form of Bruno Fernandes will be key to whether Manchester United can win the Premier League title. The Portuguese international couldn’t have started any better with a fine hat-trick on the opening day.
He took all three goals incredibly well including a thumping finish to cap off his treble. Fernandes has looked sharp in pre-season despite a disappointing Euros campaign with Portugal.
Manchester United have relied heavily on Fernandes for creativity and inspiration going forward. However, with Jadon Sancho, who came on for the last 20 minutes, the Portuguese midfielder won’t have to carry all of the burden this campaign.
To get his first hat-trick for Manchester United will give Fernandes a huge confidence boost and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping this is just the start of another productive season for the 26-year-old.
Paul Pogba Unplayable for Manchester United
Paul Pogba is yet to commit his long-term future to Manchester United. The French World Cup winner’s contract runs out next summer. Despite being linked to Paris Saint-Germain, no move has been forthcoming.
With the French side recently signing Lionel Messi, it does appear unlikely that Pogba will be leaving Old Trafford this summer.
The Frenchman showed why Manchester United are desperate for him to commit his long-term future to the club. He was simply unplayable against Leeds. He once again showed his range of passing, which culminated in four assists and a sublime pass for Mason Greenwood to put Manchester United ahead in the second half.
When he is in this kind of form he is the best midfielder not only in the Premier League but in the world. That is why he can be so frustrating when he doesn’t play like this week and week out. If he can carry this form on and show more consistency, Manchester United will be a major threat for the top honours this season.
Solskjaer’s Tactical Masterclass
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gets a lot of stick from pundits and some fans who consider the Norwegian as tactically inept. However, it was a subtle tactical change that caused Leeds all sorts of problems.
In the second half, he switched formations to a diamond in midfield. This allowed Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes more space to get forward and create chances. This change of tactic seemed to bamboozle Leeds and their manager Marcelo Bielsa, as they had no answer to it.
The top two tacticians in the Premier League are Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa. In the Premier League, Solskjaer now has a winning record against both. He has won three times in five meetings with Guardiola and two in three against Bielsa. Perhaps this narrative that Solskjaer is not tactically astute will begin to diminish.
Another Old Trafford Thumping for Leeds United
Leeds haven’t won at Old Trafford in the league since 1981 and this was another day to forget for them in Manchester. Last season, they were thrashed 6-2 and now they have followed that up with a 5-1 defeat.
Leeds played well in the first half and looked like a threat going forward. They also started the second half well and were rewarded with an early goal of the month contender from Luke Ayling. However, Manchester United stepped up the pace and blew them away with three goals in eight minutes.
It was a disappointing start to the season for Bielsa’s side. After finishing ninth last season, there is more expectation on Leeds to do even better this time around.
They had their fair share of big defeats last campaign and bounced back well. Bielsa won’t panic and won’t change his style of play and with the quality they have, they should be looking at a top ten finish once again.
Varane’s Arrival Kicks Off Carnival Atmosphere
The atmosphere at Old Trafford was already electric before the match, but went up a notch as their latest summer arrival was introduced to the crowd. French World Cup-winning defender Raphael Varane was introduced to rapturous applause from the home fans.
Varane could be the final piece in the puzzle for United’s defence. He looks like the perfect partner for Harry Maguire in central defence. Not only will he bring his defensive qualities but also experience.
Varane is a proven winner. He has played in 14 major cup finals and won all 14. With Manchester United having lost four semi-finals and one final under Solskjaer, having someone like Varane who knows what it takes to win major trophies is exactly what they need.
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