at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
This was an afternoon on which David Moyes got answers to the questions he asked of his players.
Yet the manager is no closer to a solving the biggest conundrum of all, which casts a shadow over his Old Trafford reign.
The partnership of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie should be one of the most feared in Europe, so why can they not form an effective duo?
The scoreline yesterday might have been 3-0 but it had very little to do with the understanding between United’s star pairing. In fact, statistics expose the grim truth that their relationship is actually going backwards.
Van Persie completed only one pass to Rooney, while the England international found his partner three times — one fewer than in the disastrous 2-0 defeat against Olympiacos.
So Moyes’s claim that the pair were ‘fabulous’ was stretching it. Rooney, though far from his best, got on the scoresheet and worked hard for the team.
Van Persie cut a frustrated figure at times and sulked at being substituted, yet his undoubted quality was illustrated with a wonderful delivery for Phil Jones’s opener.
His tally of 25 passes in the game, as opposed to Rooney’s 67, indicated he is struggling to influence games. It was in wide areas that United really excelled — Rafael, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj impressed — yet a player who scored 30 goals for United last season really should still be mustering more than RVP managed. Most telling of all was the fact that Rooney appeared far more comfortable when Danny Welbeck came on in Van Persie’s place in the 63rd minute.
Welbeck’s pace and movement seem more tailored to Rooney’s propensity to probe, as demonstrated for the third goal when the pair combined superbly. – Mail On Sunday