This was the first game of our 2012 pre-season tour and you could tell. Due to a significant number of absencies for a variety of reasons, Fergie already had his hands tied with personnel to a large extent and the starting line-up for this one will probably never be seen again but it was interesting, if unspectacular, nonetheless.
Berbatov was given a deeper role “in the hole” behind Hernandez and Macheda and put on a masterful performance which was very nearly rewarded with one of the best goals you’ll see all year when his 25 yard volley from a corner was just tipped over by the Amazulu goalkeeper.
It does seem, however, that Berba is finally on his way out of Old Trafford and if that’s the case then any would-be suitors will surely have been urged to get their cheque-books out after watching this.
Macheda was the one to score the game’s solitary goal and had chances to add to his tally but overall, he did well. Doing well during pre-season is what Macheda does well, though and it will be interesting to see where he is in around a month’s time.
Chicharito showed a bit of rustiness in this one. Several times, he mistimed his runs to find himself needlessly offside and whereas he always seemed to find himself in just the right place at just the right time a couple of years ago, the opposite was true for this match. Still, he’ll surely get a few more chances during this pre-season tour and can only get better.
The eye-catcher amongst a crop of youngsters played here was Jesse Lingard who looked positive and comfortable out there. It’s probably unwise to get too carried away with a young midfielder at this stage but at 19 years of age, he certainly has at least a couple of years at United ahead of him. I can see a loan move for him coming up and I’m sure there’ll be a number of interested parties.
New signing Kagawa was stripped off and ready to come on for the final ten minutes but there was no stoppage in play for a good five or six minutes which meant that by the time he did make his appearance, the game was virtually over. I suspect he’ll start in the next game though which will be good to see.
Overall, this one was very much an easing back into playing again. It wasn’t the most exciting match to watch. Amazulu were organised, hard working and fit but they just lacked a bit of class and composure in the final third (the number of long-range shots they attempted was crazy).
Still, it’s good to see the lads back out there. The countdown to the season “proper” has begun!