It took manager Louis van Gaal until the end of September to reach that landmark in his first year in charge and now he has done in it in his opening couple of games this time.
“I think we played better than last week and it was an away match so I’m very happy,” said Van Gaal.
“I think in the first 20 minutes we kept the ball better and we scored a wonderful goal. After that I think they were a little bit nervous because we lost the ball too easy but in the second-half, especially after the substitutes, we played very controlled and could have score more than only one.”
Januzaj, who found his first-team chances limited under Van Gaal, was pleased to make such an impact on his return to action for United.
“Obviously (I’m) feeling good after scoring the goal, obviously I’ve not had a game for a long time so my match fitness is not so good but I’m happy to score for the team an score the winner,” he said.
But despite the inspired decision to recall the wonderfully talented Belgian playmaker, United supporters should not get too carried away by their back-to-back clean sheets and one-goal victories.A team with more attacking quality and confidence than Tim Sherwood’s Villa would surely have tested stand-in goalkeeper Sergio Romero more.
This match, so low on quality, was lifted by the excellent passing of United’s Juan Mata and the one piece of brilliance from Januzaj. The Belgian, still only 20, was recalled for his first start in half a year ahead of Ashley Young and settled the match with his fifth United goal in the 29th minute.
Luke Shaw and Mata combined well in the build-up on the left. And it was a defence-killing pass from Mata that allowed Januzaj to burst clear the wrong side of Micah Richards. He controlled on the corner of six-yard-box, checked back on to his right foot, to send a series of Villa defenders sliding out of the way, and shot through a sea of legs to scoredinto the far corner of the net with the aid of a deflection. Sherwood, after selling striker Christian Benteke to Liverpool for over £30m, has spent £50m strengthening last season’s relegation-threatened squad, including the huge £7m he splashed yesterday on Barcelona winger Adama Traore, a 19-year-old with just one La Liga appearance to his name in Spain. That deal came too late for him to make his debut in front of a sold out Villa Park which was shaking with excitement at kick-off, despite horrendous Friday traffic and weather conditions on the afternoon of the match.
An over-exuberant captain Richards, one of those summer signings trying to make an impression on his first Villa Park appearance, almost seemed to be trying too hard to impress.
Villa started the second period well too and a misplaced Mata pass allowed Jordan Ayew an opportunity, but he blazed his shot over the bar. Ayew was later booked for diving on an unimpressive Villa Park bow. Gabby Agbonlahor went close with a header from a corner soon after and now the home crowd were chanting Rudy Rudy – trying to persuade Sherwood to send on Saturday’s debut goal hero from the win at Bournemouth. They got their wish on 58th minute as Scott Sinclair made way for Gestede, the summer signing from Blackburn.
Van Gaal responded instantly by sending on Ander Herrera and Bastian Schweinsteiger to try and shore up the midfield and stop his side giving the ball away so often.
And the Dutch coach’s tactics paid off again Two games, two wins and they are not playing very well? Sounds like United are back!
Guzan 6; Bacuna 6, Richards 5, Clark 5, Amavi 7; Veretout 6, Gueye 5, Westwood 6; Ayew 5, Agbonlahor 5, Sinclair 6 (Gestede 59, 5).
Romero 6, Darmian 6, Smalling 7, Blind 7, Shaw 7; Carrick 7 (Schweinsteiger 59, 6), Schneiderlin 6; Mata 7, Januzaj 7 (Herrera 59, 5) Depay 6 (Young 81, 6); Rooney.
Mike Dean 5/10