Wing man: Van Gaal says it is up to Mata to perform to keep his place

By Editor Wayne Veysey

Van Gaal gets stay of execution

The under-fire Dutchman could ill have afforded a third consecutive defeat, especially at the hands of a team struggling to stay in League One. However, Louis van Gaal’s team never looked like coming unstuck against Shrewsbury. This was a stylish and comprehensive performance against opponents who were too respectful of the visitors. Two first-half goals gave United control of the tie and they cruised through the second period, despite playing the last 16 minutes with 10 men. Bigger tests await United this week – they face Midtjylland in the Europa League on Thursday before hosting Arsenal three days later. For now, Van Gaal has been given a stay of execution.

United injury woes continue

In the latest chapter of United’s book of injury woes, substitute Will Keane was forced off with a groin injury within just minutes of taking to the field as Anthony Martial’s replacement. The 23-year-old striker, who had been promoted to the first team after 10 goals in six matches for the Under-21s, pulled his muscle after a left-foot shot and signalled that he could not go on. With all three substitutes, used, this meant that United had to play the final 16 minutes of the match with 10 players. Serious questions need to be asked of United’s injury prevention methods.

Winging it: Depay can take advantage of Rooney absence
Winging it: Depay given chance to take advantage of Rooney absence

Depay does little to convince in Rooney’s absence

The Holland international has been the immediate beneficiary of the knee injury that is set to sideline Wayne Rooney for six to eight weeks. For the second consecutive match Memphis Depay was named in the starting X1. However, it was a far from convincing performance from the Dutchman in his favourite left-flank role. His two early shots went miles over the crossbar and he could not rebuild his shattered confidence against the limited home side.

Martial and Mata are the two key men

With his second-half substitutions, Van Gaal revealed that he regards Martial and Mata as his two key players in a week in which the team play three times in just six days. Both players had impressive matches against the lowly opposition and were taken off to be preserved for what should be sterner tests ahead. With so many players in the treatment room, the manager needs to keep the two attackers as fresh as possible.

Injury boost: De Gea is closing in on United return
Injury boost: De Gea is closing in on United return

Romero is a handy deputy to De Gea

A last-minute selection last Thursday after De Gea’s pre-match injury, the Argentine has demonstrated that he is a more than handy deputy to the undisputed No1. He had little to do against Shrewsbury but exuded authority in goal. Van Gaal revealed before kick-off that the outstanding De Gea is closing in on a return to fitness, but United know his deputy is reliable.