Louis van Gaal made a dream start to his job as manager of Manchester United as his side trounced LA Galaxy 7-0 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. The Dutchman heralded a result that saw a brace each from Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Reece James as a “beautiful performance”.
A mere 11 days since van Gaal left his post as manager of the Netherlands, having led his side to third place at the World Cup in Brazil, van Gaal was back in the Americas overseeing his first match in charge of Manchester United. He also emerged from the Chevrolet Cup match in front of 86,432 spectators with a few outstanding individual performances, notably from new signings Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera.
Although 7-0 against a side from the MLS may not sound like anything to boast about, LA Galaxy were crowned champions just two-years-ago. They currently lie in fourth place the MLS Western Conference. The performance, number of goals and a clean sheet will have pleased van Gaal regardless. Rooney started the match up-front with Darren Fletcher winning the captain’s armband for the occasion.
Van Gaal started with a 3-4-1-2 formation as United dominated early possession – the system being completely different to the four at the back used in the past by Sir Alex Ferguson and more recently, David Moyes. Herrera, who joined United for $49 million from Athletic Bilbao in La Liga just a few weeks back, started brightly and forced a save from Jaime Penedo from 25 yards.
However, United only had to wait another eight minutes before Juan Mata set up Danny Welbeck, who fired in off the post to ignite van Gaal’s reign as new United manager. Welbeck, who scored a disappointing 10 goals in 36 games under Moyes last season has come under pressure for his lack of consistency.
The Americans struggled to contain the English as the two Spaniards – Herrera and Mata – played a number of intricate and incisive passes that caused the Galaxy numerous problems. United’s performance could not have been more different than the first game under Moyes last year – a 1-0 defeat to a Singh All-Star XI in Bangkok which produced some harsh headlines. However, van Gaal did start with a much stronger side with only Welbeck and Jonny Evans featuring in both matches.
Rooney converted a penalty late in the first-half and then was gifted a second goal following poor defending by the Galaxy. Penedo foiled the first attempt but Rooney followed up the effort to put his side 3-0 to the good. Content with what he saw with his starting line up, van Gaal made nine changes at the break with only captain Fletcher and Herrera remaining on the the field for the re-start.
Michael Keane, Tyler Blackett and Reece James were all given an opportunity and the latter got on the score sheet midway through the second-half when he coolly slotted home a center from Young. The youngster netted again on 85 minute from another Young assist. Not to be upstaged, Young then scored twice in the last five minutes to cap off a comprehensive victory, making sure van Gaal had a dream start as United manager. The Red Devils fly to Denver on Thursday to face AS Roma, who are expected to give United a much sterner examination.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd