United may have started the season with defeat at Goodison Park on Monday night, but there were still positives to take from the performance.
Most notably, David De Gea answered yet more questions about his ability to cope with the rigors of English football. The Spanish goalkeeper struggled at times during his first season in the Barclays Premier League, as early mistakes dented his confidence and physical forwards targetted him in the air.
At Everton on Monday, De Gea made numerous smart saves in the first half and dealt well with Everton’s aerial bombardment... even after he was flattened early on by a stray Marouane Fellaini forearm. There can be no blame attributed to him for Fellaini’s goal, either. Indeed, but for De Gea the home side would have scored much sooner.
Shinji Kagawa also impressed on his Manchester United debut. The Japanese played in the hole behind Wayne Rooney and produced a number of clever touches high up the pitch. In fact, at half-time he had played more successful passes in the final third (16) than any other player on the pitch.
One probing pass to Danny Welbeck sliced open the Everton defence and he showed great presence of mind in the second period to tee up Tom Cleverley for a shot that Phil Jagielka cleared off the line. Had United players provided Kagawa with more service, particularly after the interval, his impact could well have been greater.
For a first run-out, however, Kagawa can be proud. His vision, passing and movement were all first-class and it's easy to see why Sir Alex Ferguson splashed out this summer to bring him to Old Trafford.
De Gea and Kagawa were undoubtedly United’s brightest sparks, but Tom Cleverley and Patrice Evra also make our Man of the Match shortlist. Cleverley, in just his 16th Reds appearance, almost opened his United account with the aforementioned chance and tackled solidly all evening (all five attempts successful).