Opinion: The one Telles had waited for
Alex Telles has probably never heard of the Stone Roses, yet ‘This is the One’ was all the Brazilian could hear when walking out of the tunnel to make his Old Trafford debut on Saturday night.
It's fair to assume that classic from the iconic Manchester band is rarely heard in Caxias do Sul, where Alex was born, but it's ever-present on matchday in M16 and used to signify the teams’ arrival onto the pitch.
Telles had dreamt about playing at the Theatre of Dreams since signing from FC Porto in October and, much to his frustration, it was delayed by a positive coronavirus test and then the recent international break.
When it finally arrived on Saturday night, against West Bromwich Albion, the sound of Ian Brown singing “this is the one you’ve waited for” felt entirely appropriate.
Nevertheless, Telles was immediately involved in the action as most of United’s play went up the left wing, with the 27-year-old linking up with Marcus Rashford for the second time, following his impressive club debut in the Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain last month.
An aggressive aerial challenge into Darnell Furlong on 13 minutes would have earned a rippling applause in normal circumstances, as would a whipped cross towards Bruno Fernandes before the half-hour mark, as our latest South American eased his way into life at Old Trafford.
Telles’ crossing ability is one of the reasons Solskjaer head-hunted the Brazilian and Opta data highlights he produced eight crosses in total - more than any other player and twice the number West Brom tallied. They didn’t lead to goals on this occasion, of course, but you have to feel our variety of strikers will start to benefit from such deliveries as stronger relationships are forged.
Alex also had the second highest number of touches with 104 (which is only one fewer than the busy Nemanja Matic), gained possession on 11 occasions and won 100 per cent of his aerial duels, which are encouraging numbers for statisticians.
Our left-back even registered two shots at goal and both were ambitious volleys from Fernandes crosses. While neither lived up to the standard of a watching Paul Scholes, soaring over the bar into the stand, his willingness to try displays a confidence that has to be commended.
On the whole, Telles enjoyed a solid Old Trafford debut and the absence of Luke Shaw means further opportunities are presumably imminent, providing a valuable chance to build some momentum in a United shirt.
Make no mistake, the next time Alex walks out of the tunnel – probably against Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League next week – his new surroundings and the sound of the Stone Roses will feel much more familiar.