It was yet another disappointing result this past week at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, as Manchester United failed to capture a winning result. The Red Devils drew Sunderland, yet again failing to achieve victory in their relatively welcoming, opening schedule. Manchester seized the lead first, as Juan Mata opened scoring in the 17th minute. The lead would not last the half as Jack Rodwell placed a free header into the corner in the 30th minute to level the match. In the 62nd minute, the match could have hinged on a questionable diving foul charged to Ashley Young, a player with a certain history of the defamed maneuver. However, a review of the replay reveals definite contact between Young and Sunderland's defender, Wes Brown, in the sure to be considered clumsy challenge. Yet again, the main takeaway from Manchester's performance on Sunday became the play of the inexperienced backline, whose total age, 66, coincidentally, falls short of the total age of two Sunderland defenders, 67. (John O'Shea, 33, and Wesley Brown, 34, both coincidentally former Manchester United squad players.)
The Capital One Cup performance was even more disappointing as the Second team defense looked even clumsier in front of goalkeeper David De Gea. The backline surrendered four goals in the 4-0 defeat to Milton Keynes Dons, a Football League One club. The loss adds another early blemish to what promised to be an exciting new age at the Manchester United under Louis Van Gaal's tactics.
The prospects for a reversal of fate and a return to glory are conflicted in light of recent transfer news as Van Gaal continues to add attacking players to the side, despite the evident lack of quantity of quality defenders to fill the backline. The manager seems unable to lure the defensive minded players necessary as transfer talks with target defender Mats Hummel have reached a stalemate with the German defender and World Cup victor remaining at current club Borussia Dortmund. Still, Ángel Di Maria's transfer provides the team with a proven wing player that will hopefully provide the pace of attack that the manager originally envisioned when choosing to implement the 3-5-2 formation in Manchester. While it may be considered pure speculation at this point, Sami Khedira's refusal to re-sign at Real Madrid could be a portend of a move this transfer period to a Manchester side with desperate need of his services. As with all transfer windows, only time will tell what moves will be made in time to bolster the squad, but Van Gaal seems full in tune with the moves necessary to amplify his desired formation. United fans can also add Daley Blind, Ajax, to their transfer list hopefuls this period. Things are sure to heat up as the transfer window closes September 1st.
MUFC looks to rebound after their prompt dismissal from Capital One Cup in their next match, another away contest against Burnley. Injuries continue to mount for the Red Devils in the early season. Key injuries include those sustained by Michael Carrick (ankle), Marouane Fellaini (ankle), Ander Herrera (ankle), Jesse Lingard (undisclosed right leg injury), and Luke Shaw (hamstring). Shinji Kagawa sustained a mild concussion early in the loss against MK Dons during the week, and it is not certain whether he will be match fit in time for Saturday's game. The contest will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network at 7:45 am EST.