Singha All-Stars 1-0 Manchester United: Five lessons learned

by Tom Parker

The David Moyes era began in fairly innocuous fashion after his Manchester United side succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against the Singha All-Stars on a humid Bangkok evening.

Moyes’ first game in charge saw United struggle to unlock a fairly resolute defence from the Thai outfit in the squads first game back for pre-season, where regaining the sharpness required for a Premier League title tilt is more important than the end result.

A first match and a first defeat

United fans were eager to kick-off the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era with a barnstorming victory. This was not to be.

Few could argue with the final result with Singha creating the lions share of the chances, coming close on a number of occasions with United relying on Ben Amos between the sticks to prevent a heavier defeat. While Danny Welbeck and Adnan Januzaj missed good chances, United didn’t create enough to warrant a victory.

Adnan’s a little star

While the end result was a little disappointing, it’s difficult to be anything but ecstatic with the performance of 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj in his first senior appearance for United. Januzaj won the Denzil Haroun reserve player of the year award last term and was rewarded for a fine 2012-13 campaign with a place on the bench in Ferguson’s final game against West Brom before his place on this years tour.

The decision to play the young Belgain raised a few eyebrows but Januzaj certainly grasped the chance with two hands, impressing with a fine display. Operating mainly from the right-hand side, the winger displayed fantastic intricacy and quick feet. His decision-making was good too as he often released the ball at the perfect time, particularly early on in the game.

He came incredibly close to scoring the first goal of the Moyes era, shooting over from a fine Fabio Da Silva cross which would have been almost the perfect headline. Despite waning a little after the break, it was a fantastic display and Januzaj looked noticeably sharper than his more experienced colleagues.

Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young may have more than just Wilfried Zaha for competition this season.

Chaos at the back?

David Moyes’ Everton were traditionally regarded as one of the most well-drilled defensive units in the league for over a decade. Against Singha though, United’s rear-guard had their fair share of issues, particularly in the first period.

The back four looked a little shaky almost from the outset and United came close to conceding as early as the fourth minute, with the Singha forwards dawdling allowing a fine last-ditch intervention from Jonny Evans preventing a certain goal. A fabulous Ben Amos stop from a volleyed effort from ten yards out prevented the best of the Thailand Premier League going in ahead at half-time.

A goal followed shortly after Singha had peppered the United goal with shots from distance. Thankfully following the goal Evans and Ferdinand improved, although it may be harsh to burden them with the blame given Buttner’s defensive frailties which were clear once more.

Welbeck continues to frustrate in front of goal

Danny Welbeck’s game is about so much more than just finding the net and while he finished last season with just two goals, many felt he had a very decent season in everything but the goal-scoring department.

But hitting the back of the net is the bread and butter for a striker though and against the Singha All-Stars, his shooting boots were yet again missing.

Playing as the lone striker, Welbeck had a number of good chances to score, non more so than the 80th minute where he squandered a golden chance.

The England international worked the channels extremely well and also fared well at holding up the ball but his lack of a cutting edge in front of goal could prevent him from becoming a brilliant striker.

Uh huh from Zaha

Since a transfer was announced in January, the debut of Wilfried Zaha has been eagerly anticipated by United fans after a dreadful season for the club’s wingers by all accounts last year.

But Zaha, a substitute just after the hour mark, was certainly worth the wait. He looked like the only player capable of forcing an equaliser late on. Penetrative, decisive and with an end product, Zaha came incredibly close to opening the scoring from a shot just inside of the box and probably should have scored with a far post header minutes after entering the fray.

The signs are certainly good for the former Palace man, who could represent an exciting, viable alternative to Valencia given that he looks like he is actually able to take a man on and beat him.

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