July 13, 2011
By Marc Kiredjian, NewEnglandSoccerNews.com Contributor
United here to get fit and find pieces
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.--Less than six weeks ago, Manchester United culminated their otherwise successful 2010- 2011 season with a 3-1 loss to FC Barcelona in a highly anticipated Champions League final at Wembley Stadium in London.
Wednesday, after a brief respite from a lengthy season that combines domestic Premier League play with the international European Champions League competition, the club officially began preparing for the next season by kicking off their preseason campaign against the New England Revolution in front of 51,523 at Gillette Stadium.
United will begin their Premier League season on August 14 against West Bromwich Albion and manager Sir Alex Ferguson has made it clear that his main objective is to use the preseason to prepare.
"The first thing is to get the fitness…and get a rhythm and tempo in our game. That’s what we look for in preseason. By the end of the tour we should be in good shape."
Sir Alex also stayed true to his promise that he would use the preseason opportunity to test new additions and younger players to determine their place on the first team.
Among the newer players showcased was Anders Lindegaard, who started in goal for United on Wednesday. Lindegaard, the 27-year-old Danish ‘keeper, signed for United in January of this year but has yet to secure a regular spot on the team. He looked confident on the few occasions that he was tested. With Edwin Van Der Sar's spot open, Lindegaard feels he has a shot.
"I can only do the things that I can do. I'm not here to sit on the bench and be a fan,” Lindegaard said. “Edwin had a huge name and from my point of view is a legend in the club. Him going on pension makes the spot available and it’s the most attractive spot in the world."
Among the United regulars starting against the Revolution were twin brothers and co-defenders Fabio and Rafael, captain Nemanja Vidic and fellow defender Jonny Evans, Michael Carrick, Anderson, Nani, and Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney playing up front.
Ashley Young looked dangerous on the left flank in his first appearance for United since signing for the club in June. Young contributed with several effective deliveries into the box from the left flank during the first half. He also linked up well with Berbatov up top, a combination that could prove useful during the premier league campaign if Berbatov maintains his role for United. Sir Alex Ferguson felt good about Young's potential playing on the left wing for United.
"That's been his natural position...and his qualities are as we expected. I think he had three fantastic crosses tonight...I'm satisfied."
The goals came quickly after the break at half time. Michael Carrick played a great through ball to Michael Owen, who broke on the left and slotted the first goal past Revolution keeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the 51st minute. The floodgates then opened up and it was Carrick again who saw the new sub Federico Macheda break down the middle and put another one past Shuttleworth three minutes later. The Revolution answered quickly, on a deflected free kick taken by Benny Feilheiber and redirected by Kenny Mansally in the 56th. Next came a cross from Rafael on the right that Sainey Nyassi could not clear before Macheda collected and sent another one past Shuttleworth to make it 3-1. The icing on the cake came in the 80th minute from a beautiful give-and-go play by Ji-Sung Park who received the flick on from Ryan Giggs before tapping it over Shuttleworth and into the goal for a final score of 4-1.
Macheda shone on the field during the second half, scoring two goals. The Italian forward played out his season on loan with Sampdoria in the Serie A last season but is hoping to stay at Manchester this year and his performance against the Revolution has only helped him in this regard.
"Ever since last year, I've been looking for a way to get back to Manchester United.,” said Macheda. “Nothing can compare to being at Manchester United."
Asked whether the nineteen-year-old has had a chance to discuss his future with Sir Alex, Macheda said, "We haven't spoken yet, he just said to train hard."
Macheda also expressed confidence despite a frustrating loan experience with Sampdoria, an Italian club team that was recently demoted to Serie B in the Italian second division, assuring his critics, "When you have bad experiences, you can learn from them."
Missing from the squad was Javier Hernandez, who has yet to rejoin the team after playing for the Mexican national team in the Copa America tournament.
Manchester United take their preseason US tour to the west coast next week, facing Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA on Wednesday, July 20.