Manchester United 1 (Carrick) Galatasaray 0
1. Signal of intent? After crashing out of the Champions League at the group stage last season, we were out tonight to make a statement to Europe – and we did exactly that, for 20 minutes.
The rest of the game reeked of how we played in Europe last year where we made games uncomfortable for ourselves with poor passing and a lack of commitment, inviting the opposition forward to attack.
We looked rusty, really rusty. Almost everybody was making mistakes and a missed penalty from Nani typified that.
Tonight, we got away with one. It was a scruffy win but a win is a win, we just need to make sure we improve ahead of the next match.
2. Michael Carrick‘s brilliant performance. He started off the game by scoring an excellently taken goal, his first of the season and first in three years in the Champions League and was simply superb for Manchester United. Committed tackles in the middle, pin point passing, driving forward runs and last ditch defensive tackles – he had it all.
Forever criminally under-rated, Carrick has been the lynch pin in Manchester United’s midfield for the past few seasons. Quite how he was overlooked for England after being one of the best English midfielders in the league last year is beyond me, but we are reaping the rewards.
He is the oil to our engine and tonight he showed it, hardly putting a foot wrong in the process. Our midfield might be strikingly weak but if Michael Carrick can keep up tonight’s sort of form, it will certainly take the edge off.
3. Can we not take penalties anymore? First van Persie, then Hernandez and now Nani. That’s three penalties missed in a row. What are we doing? An awful jinked run up by Nani never filled me with confidence.
Last season, Wayne Rooney missed a few penalties in a row before netting two in the Chelsea 3-3 draw, so it is not the first time we’ve fallen into a penalty taking rut. We need to be clinical and missing three penalties on the bounce is rather the opposite.
It might not have hurt us in the final result of these three games but if we continue to miss, it will haunt us sooner rather than later.
4. The return of Darren Fletcher. Considering how written off Darren was only a few months ago, the fact that he made a cameo appearance for the last ten minutes tonight against Galatasaray is a miracle.
After playing the last three U21 games, his fitness has been improving with each minute played and ten months after making his last appearance, he is back playing first team football.
Manchester United have sorely missed an enforcer type midfielder in the squad. Someone who runs around biting at the heels of the opposition, eating up the space and pressuring them into mistakes.
It will still be at least a few weeks before Darren Fletcher gets his game head back on his shoulders but just the fact that is fit enough to make an appearance is a massive boost to the squad.
5. The goalkeeping yo-yo set to continue. David de Gea may not have had much to do tonight but when called upon, he pulled off a fantastic double save to keep Galatasaray out.
Sir Alex Ferguson said in the week that he has no problem switching goalkeepers and with Liverpool away on Sunday, both Lindegaard and De Gea are in line to start.
I’m sure that Ferguson will stick with David after his performance tonight but I still can’t really see the benefit of chopping and changing goalkeepers.