Van Gaal calls for calm as Man Utd beat Liverpool in Miami
Rooney shines again as United claim International Champions Cup with five wins on the trot
Man United 3 Liverpool 1. New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has warned fans not to get too carried away after their pre-season tour of the US ended with a symbolic 3-1 triumph over arch-rivals Liverpool.
The come-from-behind victory at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami won United the International Champions Cup trophy. It was the Red Devils' fifth success in a row under Van Gaal and there is now an air of expectancy about the new season.
However, the former Netherlands coach warned that the serious business does not start until later this month, when United begin their 2014-15 Premier League campaign with a visit from Swansea City. "It's nice for the fans in the USA and also at home that we beat Liverpool," said Van Gaal at his post-match press conference. "I think we gave a lot of pleasure to the fans and that's very important. Of course, it's better to win than to lose in pre-season but the most important game is against Swansea City. That's the one we have to win."
United still have one more warm-up match in their locker - against Spanish side Valencia on 12 August – but for the time being the Red Devils can be satisfied with a successful tour of the USA. They were made to work hard against Liverpool, going one down to a Steven Gerrard penalty on 14 minutes, but second-half goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and substitute Jesse Lingard were enough to see off their rivals in front of a packed house in Miami.
For Rooney the International Champions Cup has been a personal as well as a team triumph, eradicating memories of his poor World Cup and confirming that the club environment is where he plays his best football. Appointed captain by Van Gaal against Liverpool, Rooney responded with an authoritative display and his side-footed strike on 55 minutes was his fifth goal of the tour. Rooney was subsequently voted player of the tournament and Van Gaal was happy to sing his praises.
"For Rooney, the goal was very important. It was a wonderful goal. You see the attack and what he did to push the ball under the legs of the goalkeeper and also in the corner... He's always a winner. I think he deserved to win the award because he made a lot of assists and scored goals."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers remained chipper despite the defeat, and the fact that during the 16-day tournament several of his squad – including Adam Lallana, Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge - returned home nursing injuries. "Overall I'm delighted with the whole tournament and what it's done for us," he said. "We have worked very hard and we will leave here with plenty of positives and look forward to the new season."
Liverpool face Southampton on the opening day of the campaign and Rodgers is confident he'll have a full-strength squad to choose from. "The condition of the players that we have at the moment is very good," explained Rodgers. "We've obviously got a few missing but certainly by Southampton we will be ready and we are looking forward to it."