PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY 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 Football 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 (right), on his United debut.
This article was first published on July 25, 2014.
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