By Manchester correspondent Alex Stevens
David de Gea is unlikely to wear a Manchester United shirt again, Tottenham need to sign a new striker and other things we learned from the opening Premier League fixture of the season.
De Gea has played his last game for United
Sat suited and booted in the Old Trafford directors box watching Sergio Romero take his place in goal, it is hard to believe that De Gea has not played his last match for United. It was a brave decision from Van Gaal to omit United’s player of the year for the last two seasons and it was vindicated by a solid performance from his replacement Sergio Romero. The Argentina No1 was quick off his line in the first half to deny Kyle Walker and made a fine parry from Christian Eriksen’s late drive. Romero needs to improve his distribution and communication with the defenders. But the sense is that Van Gaal is resigned to losing De Gea and is finding his presence around the club an unwelcome distraction. The best outcome for all parties is for the goalkeeper to wrap up a transfer to Real Madrid as quickly as possible.
Schweinsteiger is a natural born leader
Deemed not quite fit enough to start in central midfield, the Germany World Cup winner delivered an impressive half-hour cameo after replacing Michael Carrick. There was some tidy passing and turnover of possession. But what stood out was Schweinsteiger’s communication and leadership skills. He was encouraging of his team-mates, telling them where to pass and directing operations in the manner of a player who has seen it, done it and had plenty of success doing so. We will find out soon enough if the 31-year-old’s best days are behind him, but he is a natural born leader. And all teams need those.
Alderweireld is an upgrade on Kaboul and Chiriches
This was a far from vintage attacking performance from the home team, and some credit for that should go to the Spurs back five. Kyle Walker was left red-faced by the own goal that separated the two sides but there was an otherwise solid look to the visitor’s back line. The left foot-right foot all-Belgium centre-back partnership of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen looks to be one of great potential. Alderweireld had a fine debut, reading the game well and distributing the ball with great sense and precision. He even carved out a late chance with a mazy dribble and cross on the run. Alderweireld looks an upgrade on hit-and-miss duo Younes Kaboul and Vlad Chiriches, who both left White Hart Lane earlier this summer.
Spurs are in urgent need a new striker
It is symptomatic of Tottenham’s lack of attacking options that Harry Kane was the only orthodox striker in their matchday squad. With Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado frozen out and trying to negotiate transfers, Mauricio Pochettino’s only answer to the question of who could help conjure a late equaliser was to throw on rookie Dele Alli. Spurs needed proven calibre and it says little for their transfer window policy that there was no back-up to Kane. Pochettino insisted afterwards that Spurs are working hard on strengthening the squad, and he is confident of them doing so. With Saido Berahino understood to be the No1 striker target, a new forward cannot arrive soon enough.
Matteo Darmian looks an accomplished right-back
Of United’s five summer signings, the Italian has arrived at Old Trafford to the least fanfare. But the £14million signing from Torino maintained his pre-season form with an assured Premier League debut. Nacer Chadli would have been highlighted by Van Gaal and his staff as a potential dangerman but the winger got little change out of Darmian, who kept a close rein on him and made five clearances in total. His distribution was also neat and tidy. The only slight disappointment was that he struggled with cramp late on and was replaced by Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian is likely to have to get used to being on the bench in the months ahead.