Manchester United got something of a mixed return from the opening match of the season at Old Trafford. Despite managing a good 3-2 victory over Fulham, the Red Devils saw the opposition come back from a 3-1 halftime lead, according to ManUtd.com. Compounding United's troubles, in addition to a bit of lackluster defense in the second half, Wayne Rooney was injured near the end of the game.
I was surprised that Rooney was not part of the starting squad, but instead substituted on in the second half. An accidental incident with Hugo Rodallega resulted in a deep gash on the leg of the Manchester United star, and the cut will cost Rooney about a month of playing time, according to the Daily Mail. While losing a quality player is never a good thing, Manchester United is in okay shape to play without Wayne for a short period of time. However, England will have a more difficult time replacing the striker with World Cup qualifiers approaching, as the England bench is not nearly as deep as United's.
One thing that should keep United fans excited is the excellent play of offseason acquisition Shinji Kagawa, who scored his first goal at Old Trafford against Fulham. The midfielder continues to show great presence on the pitch. He makes crisp passes into open space in the notice of a split-second, and it will be very interesting to what the chemistry between Kagawa and his teammates mature.
Of course, the other Manchester United acquisition, Robin van Persie, also netted his first United goal against Fulham, and the Red Devils will look to van Persie to provide the offensive spark that Rooney normally would. If RVP, Danny Welbeck, and Dimitar Berbatov wanted a window with which to showcase their skills, the injury to Rooney has presented each of the men with a chance to put their skills on central stage. It is likely that Sir Alex will give each of them a chance. In fact, Rooney could find the landscape altered quite a bit on his return to the squad.
So while I was glad to see United get the first victory of the year and the points that come with it, the squad came close to blowing a lead and loss one of the best players in the world for about a month in the process. Manchester United now looks ahead with the prospect of RVP anchoring the attack, and with any luck it will be money well spent.
Jason Gallagher is a long-time Manchester United fan, following the performances of the Red Devils since the days of Eric Cantona and David Beckham.