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3 talking points from Van Gaal’s first thumping Man Utd win

| 24.07.2014

A 7-0 thrashing of an LA Galaxy side 17 matches into their domestic season, while using a new 5-2-3 system is plenty of cause for optimism ahead of a Premier League campaign Manchester United are 11/2 to win.

There were naturally plenty of discussion points from proceedings, here are but three:

Can the Louis van Gaal rely on his centre-back stock?

If there can be any concerns for the Dutchman following the win, his centre-backs should be one of them.

With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic gone, Van Gaal has Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling as his only senior players in that position.

Two of that trio spent much of last season rotating around the right-back position and Smalling showed his rustiness when playing in the middle during the Galaxy match.

If a three-at-the-back system is to be persisted with, better players surely needed to be recruited there.

Is the Red Devils’ reserve left-back already in their ranks?

So far this summer, United have gone two-for-one on the left side of defence, with Luke Shaw replacing Alex Buttner and Patrice Evra.

Shaw performed respectably in the first half against Galaxy, but was outshone by half-time replacement Reece James, who netted twice in a four-goal blitz after the break.

Having seen Tom Lawrence and James Wilson shine in the final game of last season, is this yet more proof that United can start to trust their youth a little more?

Will Wayne Rooney suffer armband disappointment?

Setting his sights on a fresh set of permanent armbands this season, at domestic and international level, is a reasonable couple of goals for the striker. However he could be left disappointed early on.

Van Gaal placed the little “c” next to Darren Fletcher’s name in his first United team-sheet, despite also picking Rooney in the same starting XI.

It can be argued that the tenacious Scot has more leadership qualities than the tempestuous Rooney, while recent question marks over his England place hardly lend themselves to a long-term future captain.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.