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Jul 292013

Manchester Uniteds Wilfri 008 Uniteds Hong Kong HijinxDavid Moyes’ gentle introduction to stewardship of a first-class football club ended with a no-nonsense win which sent a sold-out crowd home happy and entertained from the Royal Hong Kong Stadium. After the match Manchester United went straight to the airport, all ready to jet home after a tiring three-week marathon tour. A 5-2 win is a decent enough result. Unfortunately the Lads took a nap in the second half and Moyes can clearly see a pattern developing. With all five center backs–Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones, Michael Keane, Jonny Evans & Chris Smalling–performing sloppily (and repeatedly so), and the club captain, Nemanja Vidic, back home in Manchester repeatedly looking the worse for wear and tear, Moyes needs to decide upon whether to reinforce his back-line via the transfer market or gamble on winning a lot of high scoring games just like last season. Only two serious games take place between now and the opening-day away trip to Swansea City. One at AIK in Sweden on August 6 and then Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield five days later. He has his work cut out!

The good news, again, was that Wilfried Zaha looks serious and ready for the Premier League, as did Adnan Januzaj and Jesse Lingard in the second half. Danny Welbeck, Chris Smalling and Fabio all scored in the first half as Anderson put in an excellent shift for the whole game and finally looks to be getting fit. The oft maligned Brazilian may no longer be anybody’s idea of a wunderkind, to be sure, but in Hong Kong he put in an aggressive shift as a central midfield pivot and was not shy about making more than a few guerrilla runs into Kitchee’s box. Meanwhile Zaha’s pace along the wings as he shifted back and forth along the flanks with a disciplined Ashley Young. paid dividends. Both missed a pair of sitters while drifting in and out of the penalty area. Exhibiting some exquisite ooh-ah touches, Zaha looked good and ready to take upon himself the soon-to-be retired Ryan Giggs, the Welsh wizard’s, magic wand. Clearly motivated by the hunger and efficiency of Zaha, Januzaj and Lingard, Young clearly wants to keep his job and went out of his way to avoid his usual dreadful vices of diving and feigning injury.

United’s opener arrived in the sixteenth minute as an Ashley Young shot bounced off goalie Wang Zhepang’s right post and the fleet-footed Welbeck was there to smash home the rebound. Six minutes later, Young was in the mix again as his wicked shot was parried away for a corner. Young passed the ball short to Tom Cleverley, who returned the favor. Cleverley then squared an excellent cross which Chris Smalling rose high to head home. Four minutes later, Michael Carrick executed a fantastic 45-yarder right onto the foot of Welbeck., who promptly miscued the ball. Welbeck’s pass missed Anderson, but Zaha took possession and tapped the ball to Fabio, who slipped the ball home under the flying goalie.

In the second half, United added a fourth after Büttner fed a beautiful short cross to Januzaj, who headed home to make it 4-0. Carelessness was contagious for United, however. 53 minutes in, Lam-Ka Wai had all the time in the world to score after Christian Kwesi Annan dribbled rings around Chris Smalling to set him up as he gamboled about unmarked before firing an unstoppable beauty past Ben Amos. Fourteen minutes later, it was even easier for Alex Alkande as he slalomed past Büttner and a flat-footed Michael Keane before firing past Ben Amos.

United then scored a final insurance goal as Twinkletoes Jesse Lingard danced around Kitchee’s massed defense before firing a rising rocket into the roof of the net. Having scored four goals during the exhibition tour, Lingard has made a good case for himself to make the club squad. Moyes may also take some comfort in knowing that. if Wayne Rooney decides to force his hand and the new manager decides to sell him, he will not necessarily be forced to splash any of the cash on new strikers when he knows he already has to invest in one or two midfielders. Make no mistake, this young man from Warrington will come good!

The Japanese teams United faced were tough opponents. The merciless heat and humidity did not help, either. Still, it’s Moonsoon Season and the Hong Kong Stadium’s turf gave United a seriously worrisome problem after days of torrential rain and a series of other exhibition matches with visiting European teams had left the pitch in a state that rendered the surface into a landscape resembling something between the surface of Mars as photographed by the Voyager space observer and Omaha Beach on D-Day. After seeing the awful knee-injury Jan Vertonghen of Spurs received last week in the same stadium, Moyes, the coaching staff, and all of us fans are clearly relieved the team managed to escape without any injuries.Jesse Lingard celebrates ALeague AllStars v 2975699 Uniteds Hong Kong Hijinx

Ivor Irwin

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