Manchester United scored another victory on the North American Tour but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had to work hard for the win in front of around 40,000 supporters in Philadelphia. Gabriel Obertan, the French youngster who joined the Reds last summer, saved United’s sometimes disjointed display with late goal.
By full time, with the game played in near tropical temperatures just 100 miles south of New York, Ferguson will be grateful for the hard work out and another look at some of the squad’s much vaunted youngsters, if not the team performance.
Indeed, while Federico Macheda will have much to think about after his performance, Tom Cleverley, Fabio da Silva and – eventually – Obertan will have done their hopes of first team action in the coming season no harm at all. Meanwhile, Danny Welbeck’s touch let him down for much of the night until a sublime pass produced Obertan’s goal late on.
In strikers Welbeck and Macheda, Ferguson has placed much faith, spending this tour talking of a new maturity in the younger members of his squad. Early signs of understanding between the pair were realised when Welbeck went close, shooting from 25 yards on the turn.
The Longsight-born youngster then contrived to miss from considerably closer following Fabio’s left-wing cross. The Brazilian’s energy in the left full-back role will surely provide ample cover for Patrice Evra this season.
Paul Scholes, playing even deeper than normal, and Cleverley in a more advanced role, pulled the strings in midfield. The England under-21 international, who spent last season on loan at Watford, showed a neat eye for a pass and plenty of industry alongside more celebrated colleagues.
Locals call this the City of Brotherly Love and on the hour Fabio departed for his twin Rafael, while Correy Evans join the fray in midfield for his first team début, playing alongside his brother Jonny for the first time. With Reese Brown impressing at England Under-19 level this summer, he could soon join Wes in the first team picture too.
Union, a franchise just over a year old and near the bottom of the MLS Eastern Division, worked hard and came close to taking the lead on several occasions during a fragmented second half. But with a quarter-hour to go Obertan, whose final product was questionable for much of the night, benefited Welbeck’s vision to shoot low past Brad Knighton in the Union goal.
United hardly deserved the win but in pre-season fitness and momentum, rather than performances, are the key ingredients the manager is looking for
“You need pre-season games, they are absolutely essential. You need them to get your timing and rhythm and your breathing right,” said Ferguson, who now takes his team to New York for a midtown charity event tomorrow.
“It was the sort of game we probably needed. The Union were really powerful and aggressive, got to the ball quickly and made it difficult for us. They were better than I expected.
“We increased the tempo in the second half and did a little better then. It was a good game for us. They were very good opponents, I thought they did really well.”
United’s next fixture is against the Wizards in Kansas City on Sunday.
United: Kuszczak; O’Shea (De Laet, 77), Brown (Smalling, 61), J. Evans, Fabio (Rafael, 61); Obertan, Cleverley (Fletcher, 61), Scholes (C. Evans, 61), Giggs; Welbeck, Macheda (Berbatov, 61).