Five things we learned about United in Leverkusen rout
Manchester United booked their place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League with a dominant 5-0 away win over Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday night.
Arguably the side’s best performance under David Moyes, the Premier League champions are stringing together results and starting to look back to their best.
Here are five things we can take from the game.
Giggs a United legend
Two days before his 40th birthday, Ryan Giggs was called into action to lead a United midfield short of options. The legendary Welshman put in an accomplished performance, giving the likes of Germany international Lars Benders the runaround.
This may well be the last season that the midfielder plays at Old Trafford, but he is certain of his place amongst the Red Devils’ greats. His ability to run the game, create goals and boss the away side’s possession game here was a testament to a top professional.
Jones can be trusted in midfield
Although Giggs was the creative force that got United on top, Phil Jones filled the enforcer role admirably and showed that he can be trusted in the future to assume a position in front of his back four.
The England star’s most natural position is at the heart of his side’s defence, but his versatility, physical presence and work-rate will make him an important player for club and country for years to come.
Jonny Evans needs more praise
The Northern Ireland international may not be one of the most glamorous players at Moyes’ disposal, but he must be one of the most dependable.
Evans impressed again here, giving the dangerous Stefan Kiessling a frustrating evening, and he looked comfortable and in control at the heart of the visitors’ defence.
With the future of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic up in the air, Evans can be trusted to play at the top level and could well be a long-term successor for the successful pair.
Valencia’s form improving
One of United’s weak points over the last 12 months has been their lack of conviction, invention and final delivery from wide areas, with Antonio Valencia one of the main culprits.
Despite this, after a slow start to the season, the Ecuador international’s form has markedly improved over the last month and he is starting to get back to the forceful, direct and effective player that United bought from Wigan.
His improvement comes at a critical time, and the South American looks ready to assume a consistent starting berth from now on.
Kagawa best used as a number ten
With Robin van Persie missing, Shinji Kagawa got his wish to play in the number ten role, with Wayne Rooney playing as the furthest man forward.
The Japan international showed the deftest of touches, great vision and an excellent understanding with his strike partner to terrorise the Leverkusen rearguard.
All talk of Kagawa leaving Manchester should be put on the back burner, as he can have an important role to play in United’s trophy charge.