The Louis van Gaal era finally got lift off as Manchester United demolished Queens Park Rangers 4-0 on Sunday for their first win since the Dutchman took charge at Old Trafford.
New signing Angel di Maria was outstanding throughout, scoring the first before Wayne Rooney and fellow new boy Ander Herrera made the result a formality before the break and Juan Mata completed the rout in the second half.
When Radamel Falcao, on loan from Monaco, was introduced for the last quarter of the match for his debut, he joined Robin van Persie, Rooney and Di Maria in a potentially thrilling quartet which set the home crowd abuzz.
United’s first win in four Premier League matches took them up to ninth place in the table, only two points outside the top four — a position that some critics have predicted will be beyond them again after finishing seventh last season. Although Rangers provided feeble opposition, there was the promise of better things to come from United, given their enviable range of attacking options.
“We played much, much better,” Spaniard Mata told Sky Sports afterwards. “Hopefully it’s the first step of a good run of results.” Van Gaal, who also gave debuts to defender Marcos Rojo and midfielder Danny Blind, enjoyed the crowd’s applause as he left the pitch following a first victory as manager after a difficult start which included a League Cup defeat at third tier MK Dons.
“I’m very happy because of the way we played,” he said. Reminded that after taking over as manager of Bayern Munich he did not win until the fourth game, then won the league, he responded: “Maybe it’s a good signal”. It all added up to a forgettable return to Old Trafford for QPR centre-half Rio Ferdinand, who played for United for 12 years until last May, winning six Premier League titles and a Champions League final.