Herrera shows why he's the perfect replacement for Scholes
Herrera looks like a worthy successor to midfield legend after playing a part in five of United's seven goals
MAN UNITED 7
(Danny Welbeck 13th, Wayne Rooney 43-pen, 45, Reece James 62, 84, Ashley Young 88, 90)
LA GALAXY 0
It might have been a pre-season friendly, but one would be inclined to believe that Manchester United are truly back in the swing of things.
New United boss Louis van Gaal would like to believe that he has restored the swagger in the Red Devils.
The Dutchman certainly had plenty of positives to draw from United's 7-0 thrashing of Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Flops symbolic of the David Moyes era danced to a more upbeat tune.
Where there was once trepidation, there was, at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in the United States, an unmistakable air of excitement.
But it was the performance of new boy Ander Herrera that really got the pulse racing.
It's easy to get carried away, but it's equally hard to play down a debut this promising.
The wait for a midfield general is about to end, if this performance by the 24-year-old Spaniard is anything to go by.
United haven't had a midfielder capable of bossing things around in the middle of the park since Paul Scholes slipped into twilight.
Anderson turned out to be a mess, Wayne Rooney never quite fitted the criteria, and the verdict is still out on Tom Cleverley.
Herrera, a £29 million ($61.2m) summer arrival from Athletic Bilbao, showed all the right qualities to fill a void that United have perplexingly kept open.
He was the man United missed out on a year ago, when an embarrassing sequence of events saw a move fall through, and turned them into the butt of jokes.
He might be worth the ridicule after all. Deployed alongside Darren Fletcher, who was wearing the captain's armband, Herrera stood out in central midfield despite not finding the net in the seven-goal rout.
Fletcher provided the graft and organisation, and Herrera, the composure and instincts that training alone can't hone.
He timed passes to perfection, he made runs that opened up spaces and, most crucially, he threaded the passes United have not seen since Scholesy stopped ruling the roost in that department.
Herrera was the first United player to test the LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, with a rasping long-range shot that was turned over the bar.
He ended the game without a goal, as Rooney, Ashley Young and defender Reece James netted two goals each after Danny Welbeck had given them the lead.
But the telling statistic is that Herrera had a hand in five of the seven goals.
Amid criticism that United have not added any big-name signings to their ranks, it could well be a relative unknown in the form of Herrera who will spark the Devils back into life.
Is the Spaniard the successor to Scholes?
Only time will tell, but his Man-of-the-Match performance against LA Galaxy is an encouraging sign.
The arrival of van Gaal has given them a fillip.
The display of Herrera is dishing out hope.
The buzz is back in the United camp.
It was a dream for me to play in the red shirt — I will keep this shirt with me always. I hope this is the start of a lot of games for United. It wasn’t only me in this game though, the whole team enjoyed the game and did well. It’s the first match and we have done good things. It’s a good step and we’re very happy.
— Ander Herrera, on his United debut
“He was very good today and I am very happy for him. We have a good connection inside the pitch and outside the pitch and he will give us a lot of good things this season.”
— United midfielder Juan Mata
“He is obviously a very talented player — everyone can see that. He is good on the ball, off the ball. He is good offensively, defensively — he is very clever. He is a very nice guy as well and seems to be clever and bright, so I am sure he has a big future.”
— United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard
Welbeck unlikely to start in van Gaal's 3-4-3 formation
Danny Welbeck might have earned some brownie points by scoring the opening goal in Manchester United's 7-0 thumping of LA Galaxy yesterday morning (Singapore time), but it won't guarantee him a place in the starting 11 when the new Premiership season kicks off.
Against the LA Galaxy, United manager Louis van Gaal started Welbeck and Wayne Rooney, who scored a brace, as his front-two pairing in a 3-4-1-2 formation, with Juan Mata deployed just behind them.
All the United players, except for Ander Herrera and Darren Fletcher, were substituted at half-time.
Van Gaal confirmed after the match that he will adopt a three-man defence in a 3-4-3 formation for the upcoming season, so Welbeck is set to lose out on a starting place, with the Dutch manager likely to start with Rooney and Robin van Persie.
Welbeck's first-11 role yesterday morning was more to do with the absence of van Persie, who is on an extended break after his World Cup exertions with Holland.
Welbeck will certainly find it tough to dislodge the Dutchman from a starting spot when he returns for duty, or for that matter, Rooney.
Van Persie's place as the attacking focal point in the centre is almost certain.
Rooney's match-winning qualities make him the second name on the list, most likely on the left, leaving Welbeck to fight it out for the right-sided slot with several others, such as Juan Mata, Luis Nani, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia.
Of the lot, Valencia has a slight edge, given his defensive qualities and that he is a natural right winger.
With United not involved in European competition next term, van Gaal has little need to reshuffle his pack during the campaign.
This means Welbeck may be looking at plenty of time on the bench.
- GARY LIM
We introduced a new system that we have played only two times on the training pitch 11 versus 11, but the boys are willing to pick up the information. It is fantastic how they have performed. When you want to change a system, you must start at once. We don’t have time to prepare for other things.
— United manager Louis van Gaal, saying he will adopt a three-man defence in a 3-4-3 formation for next season