Nemanja Matic stars as magnificent Man United wallop woeful West Ham
Manchester United thumped West Ham United 4-0 in their first game of the season -- and though many will say that this was "only West Ham," this was precisely the point.
This is the type of game of which United made such heavy weather during the last campaign, and this time they simply swept the Londoners aside. It is early days, but United look to have much more attacking chemistry than just a few months ago. An encouraging start indeed.
Nemanja Matic was outstanding, with Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford not too far behind. The defence, albeit faced by a limited threat, was sound enough, and Anthony Martial made a thrilling late audition for a starting spot.
Too few truly to name, though in the interests of squad depth United could do with the winger they have been chasing all summer. Henrikh Mkhitaryan illustrated this with his quiet start, although he improved. Other teams will not be nearly so generous as Slaven Bilic's men.
Manager rating out of 10
9 -- Jose Mourinho's team looked superbly balanced and produced a performance of patience, intensity and flair. They showed excellent discipline in waiting to prise West Ham open and scored a range of goals. Most importantly, they played with freedom.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 7 -- The scoreline implies he was not busy at all, but that was not the case -- he was called upon to make three smart saves, and his positioning and passing were excellent throughout. Dealt very well with an awkward pass from Phil Jones when the game was still goalless.
DF Antonio Valencia, 8 -- Very good at getting forward in the early stages, and though he sat a little deeper than usual, by the end he remained a formidable presence in both defence and attack.
DF Eric Bailly, 8 -- His touch and awareness was excellent. Imposing as ever, he played with a measure of flair early on, and was throwing himself in front of the ball even when United were three goals to the good.
DF Phil Jones, 7 -- Aggressive yet composed. Passing had good weight, for the most part, and he looked in fine shape throughout.
DF Daley Blind, 7 -- Got forward with notable ambition, more so than Valencia -- this must have been on Mourinho's instruction -- and some of his combination play was terrific. Could have been more threatening from set-pieces.
MF Nemanja Matic, 10 -- Hard to think of anything he could have done better. Tackled with great power, yet notable control. Did not merely break up the play, but launched attacks time and again, with passing of striking range, accuracy and intent. Beat midfielders with the quick feet of a forward, and provided a great screen for the defence.
MF Paul Pogba, 9 -- Thanks in no small part to Matic, he looked utterly liberated. Showed off his full arsenal of skills to devastating effect, flighting diagonal passes and shimmying past the opposition with ease, as well as some terrific one-touch football. Rounded off a complete performance with a fantastic finish for United's fourth.
MF Juan Mata, 8 -- Quietly and methodically linked the play, so often eluding West Ham's markers with clever movement. An understated but vital showing.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 -- Grew into this game with a relish. A slightly quiet first half, but a very effective second, with two precise assists and one dribble through the heart of West Ham's defence. Could be an exceptional asset this season.
MF Marcus Rashford, 9 -- If he were a boxer, he'd be nicknamed Marvellous Marcus Rashford. The only thing his performance truly missed was a goal, as he produced perhaps his best showing yet in a left-wing role. His run and assist for the game's opener shattered West Ham's resistance, and his dribbling made Pablo Zabaleta endure a miserable afternoon. A wonderful strike against the base of Joe Hart's left-hand post might well have been the goal of the day.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 9 -- United look very dangerous with him in the lineup, given his intelligent movement and finishing. Was on the fringes of the action in the early stages as West Ham sat deep, but dispatched his first opportunity with a firm left-foot drive and brushed aside his marker to score with a second half header. Showed some fine hold-up play, an element of his work that has often been criticised, as well as some quick feet to escape his opposite man.
MF Marouane Fellaini, N/R -- Spread the play with simplicity and urgency in the closing stages.
MF Anthony Martial, N/R -- A dazzling cameo. Looked lively out on the flank, cut inside to ruthless effect, and collected both a beautiful goal and an elegant assist. Made a compelling case for a starting spot.
MF Jesse Lingard, N/R -- Was added too late to make much of a difference, but pressed high up the pitch, allowing United to maintain intensity until the final whistle.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.