Manchester United new boy Ander Herrera ran the show as Louis van Gaal strolled to a 7-0 win in his opening game as Manchester United boss.
The Dutchman started with his 3-4-3 formation, deploying new signing Luke Shaw and Ecuador captain Antonio Valencia as wing backs, while Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones filled the 3 center back spots. Ander Herrera and Darren Fletcher, who captained the side, were in central midfield while Juan Mata slotted in behind Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck up front.
The game started well, with United pressing in midfield to win the ball back early against a strong Galaxy side, with the defenders playing a high line. Ander Herrera’s rasping long-range effort got the crowd on their feet four minutes in, but ‘keeper Penedo tipped over the bar. However, after thirteen minutes Danny Welbeck made history becoming the first player to score under Louis van Gaal for Manchester United. Juan Mata cut inside and was tripped, but Welbeck ran onto the loose ball and side footed home from 25 yards out, with the ball bouncing in off the post.
United dominated throughout and made it 2-0 when they were awarded a penalty late in the second half. Antonio Valencia beat his man on the right hand side before his cross was blocked by the hand of De La Garza. Wayne Rooney stepped up and slotted home for his first of the night. His second wasn’t far behind, as 3 minutes later a counter attack saw Danny Welbeck’s first time cross completely missed by Tommy Meyer and Rooney bundled home on the stroke of half-time.
Van Gaal made 9 changes at half-time, giving as many players as he could a run out. The second half began with Anders Lindegaard replacing De Gea in-goal, while Rafael, Reece James, Tyler Blackett, Michael Keane, Shinji Kagawa, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young and Nani replaced Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Evans, Shaw, Mata, Rooney and Welbeck. Darren Fletcher popped back into central defence alongisde Keane and Blackett while James went to left wing-back. Ander Herrera stepped forward into the No.10 role while Shinji Kagawa and Cleverley slotted into central midfield. Nani and Young played up front.
The game restarted at a slower pace, with plenty of nerves on both sides. However just after the hour mark, Herrera picked the ball up in central midfield and found a lovely pass to Ashley Young who pulled the ball back for youngster Reece James to slam home with a first time left footed strike.
The game died down after that with nearly no chances but United controlled the game with Herrera’s star shining much brighter than any other. Once again he was involved as his pass once again found an impressive Ashley Young who’s shot was saved before Reece James placed his shot in the far corner for his second of the night on his debut.
Herrera then registered his second assist of three for the evening when he played a wonderful through ball to Ashley Young who rounded the Galaxy keeper and slotted home for his first goal on 88 minutes. Two minutes later, Herrera with another superbly timed pass once again found Ashley Young who blasted past the goalkeeper to round off an impressive 7-0 victory in front of 86,432 fans at the Rose Bowl.
Van Gaal revealed after the game that this is the formation he planned to use throughout next season, along with 4-3-3 if necessary.
“3-4-3 is the way we’ll play this season. The squad isn’t balanced, we have four No.10’s.” said Van Gaal.
“We can switch to 4-3-3 when the other system doesn’t work. But if we play that we have three strikers on the bench. That’s not good.”
Van Gaal admitted he was happy with the performance of the squad during his first game.
“The result is always important. With such a result you get confidence, a confidence in the new system. We introduced a new system and played two times on the training pitch 11 v 11. It is not so much, but the boys are willing to pick up the information.”
“It is fantastic how they have performed today. Last week, 10 players who played tonight were not even in our training complex. But when you see us train, you can expect something but not 7-0. It was a surprise, but they were also beautiful goals.”
“When I see my team playing a new system, it is better to win 7-0 than to lose because the players will then doubt the system. But now I don’t have that problem.”
Manchester United’s next pre-season game is against AS Roma on Saturday in Denver.