1. Schweinsteiger’s pass lights up one-sided second-half
THERE WAS NO doubt that Man United improved tonight after Bastian Schweinsteiger’s second-half introduction.
Louis van Gaal’s side may have led Club Brugge 1-0 at half-time, but the Red Devils gave a far from convincing first-half display.
Club Brugge missed some good chances, most notably when Abdoulay Diaby selfishly attempted to round the goalkeeper when he could have squared it to a teammate for a simple tap-in.
After the German international came on for the ineffectual Adnan Januzaj at half-time, not only did Schweinsteiger give United greater control in midfield, but he also freed up Ander Herrera into a more advanced role, with the Spanish underage international having a greater influence on the play as a result.
And indeed, the highlight of Schweinsteiger’s performance and perhaps of the game at large was the immaculate pass he produced that left Herrera with a simple finish for United’s fourth goal of the evening.
2. Rooney back to his best?
Wayne Rooney has been written off on several occasions over the course of his career, only to ultimately prove his critics wrong on each occasion.
Some people have again suggested his best days are over at just 29, but the Man United striker responded in emphatic fashion by scoring a hat-trick tonight.
Reports of Rooney’s demise have surely therefore been a little premature, haven’t they?
The former teenage prodigy hasn’t had the best of starts to the season, putting in a particularly poor performance against Aston Villa, and failing to score in 10 competitive matches before tonight.
But he was a little unlucky to have a goal ruled out against Newcastle and the constant switching of the player’s position from Van Gaal in recent months hasn’t helped matters.
That said, high standards are demanded at Old Trafford, and Club Brugge were in many ways the perfect team for Rooney to play against, with their inept defence and somewhat naive tactical mindset.
The England international has consequently silenced the doubters for now, but he will still have to do much more over the course of the season to continue to justify his unquestioned status as a starter for one of the world’s biggest clubs.
3. Management’s reaction to Hernandez’s penalty miss said it all
The look on Louis van Gaal and Ryan Giggs’ faces said it all after Javier Hernandez missed a penalty tonight.
Despite only appearing as a substitute on 64 minutes, when United were cruising and all but certain of progression to the group stages, the Mexican international still managed to have a night to forget.
After slipping and hitting his penalty wide in the process, Hernandez went on to miss what was practically an open goal from close range following an inviting Ashley Young cross.
Over the summer, there has been plenty of speculation that the 27-year-old is set to leave Old Trafford, even in light of the club’s current striker shortage, and if tonight does turn out to be the Hernandez’s last match, it’s a pretty ignominious end to a career that at one stage promised so much.