Today's opponents QPR have had an awful season so far and at the start of today's clash were sitting one place off the bottom of the league. It seemed to be the perfect opportunity for United to bounce back and reassure all that last week was a blip and nothing more. This they did but of course not the easy way.
Social media had been on fire following the Southampton defeat with the majority of United fans, myself included, calling for the abandonment of the 3-5-2 system. The main reason being that it was simply not working. The three defenders entrusted with the roles at the back Smalling, Jones and Evans, looked out of sorts and out of ideas.
To play that system you need better equipped players and it could be something for the future once van Gaal has all the talent he believes can put his 'philosophies' into fruition. In the meantime reverting to a 4-4-2 (midfield diamond) or even a 4-4-3 formation seemed to be what the fans were calling for. Also, many had the view that Rooney is a striker, so therefore his goal scoring abilities are wasted in midfield.
Falcao was given a chance to impress, after being left out of the squad last week, as Robin van Persie failed to shake off his ankle injury in time. He would be partnered up front by Di Maria with captain Rooney continuing his deployment in midfield. Marcos Rojo made a return to the side at the expense of Luke Shaw.
United started the first half brightly with the midfielders playing high up the pitch taking the match to the QPR defenders who seemed happy to let United come at them. Falcao seemed a little rusty with an early chance from a great ball from Mata, His initial strike was saved by Green, who then made a second save as Falcao followed up his own shot.
After the 20th minute United tried to push forward. However due to a lack of creativity mixed with poor distribution QPR broke away themselves. Austin trying a dipping shot from way outside the area which required a superb one handed save from the ever reliable de Gea. Exactly the sort of effort that was needed at the other end.
United should have been awarded a clear penalty after Rooney was brought down by Barton. The only people who didn't see it were the only ones that mattered, referee Swarbrick and his assistant.
The first yellow card of the game was no surprise as Joey Barton was cautioned for a high challenge on United's Evans. This was followed by Mata being booked for a clumsy foul. These offences were seen by the ref.
Half time 0-0. Once again a poor showing from the Red Devils. In summary QPR would have gone in at the break ahead if it wasn't for David de Gea.
The second half got underway with both sides making changes. United bringing on Marouane Fellaini in place of Juan Mata. Presumably to add steel to the middle of the park.
The brilliant away fans were shouting 'Attack, attack, attack!' seemingly calling for a change in the formation.
Then on 58 minutes substitute Fellaini got the vital opener. Valencia stormed into the area from the right and crossed to Fellaini who took one touch then slammed the ball into the back of the net from the middle of the box giving Green no chance in goal. 1-0 United.
Good forward play from James Wilson on the right almost gifted a chance to Falcao but the ball was flicked away from the Colombian by a defender just before the striker could add the finishing touch. Already, Wilson and Falcao were having more of an impact together than Falcao had had with Argentinian Di Maria.
Then James Wilson scored his first goal of the season when United broke in the 94th minute. Bearing down on the QPR penalty area with three against one Wilson had two players to his left but opted to strike as he entered the box. His first left footed strike was saved by the keeper, but he kept his head brilliantly to score with a right footed rebound. A young man showing others how to do it with style.
This was definitely a game of two halves as United changed their formation from the terrible 3-5-2 of the first half to the match winning flat back four of the second. How much more comfortable the players looked after the switch. Sure, the home side could have and probably should have done more to force an equaliser, but the back four, without Evans, remained resolute until the end.
Rooney in midfield was as industrious as ever but is a total waste of a striker, he and Di Maria should have swapped their roles. Rooney's passing was very poor today and every time Di Maria received the ball with his back to goal nothing came of it as he is not accustomed to that position; however, Rooney is.
It was great to see Wilson break his duck this season especially in the confident style he did. In fact the way he kept his composure to follow up and score the rebound from his own fine initial strike showed what regular United followers have been used to seeing from him in the reserves.
Next up is the fourth round of the FA Cup with United to visit Cambridge United next Friday evening. As I have said before this would seem our best chance of silverware but also a chance to try new things. For examaple, how about giving David de Gea a well earned rest and let's see what Victor Valdes has to offer. In defence recall McNair and Blackett, give Herrera his place back in midfield after his Yeovil heroics and let Wilson continue up front.
There we have it a week that ended on a more positive note than it had started.
Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. Until next time.