Except in Rio, United dance to Latin tune

Manchester United 2 Boca Juniors 0

It is on days like these that you understand why Sir Alex Ferguson refused to hand over the managerial reins at Manchester United. True, the job will always bring stress, such as Rio Ferdinand's early exit with a twisted left ankle, which will keep him out of Wednesday's Champions' League tie and puts his Premiership debut on Saturday in some doubt. But the good still far outweighs the bad. While neighbouring clubs such as Bury, Oldham, and Stockport were kicking off their Nationwide League campaigns in front of a few loyal fans, a packed Old Trafford saw yesterday's high-profile 2-0 friendly win over Argentina's Boca Juniors.

The fact that the game was in aid of Unicef helped swell the numbers, but you sense that the United faithful would turn out for pretty much any occasion. Not so yesterday's guest of honour, who is usually touring the world on behalf of Her Majesty's secret service. Wearing a home strip with the number 007 on his back, Roger Moore was paraded before kick-off. He was later presented with a cheque for the entire takings of the day. Needless to say the former James Bond star failed to keep eyebrows down when he clocked the total amassed.

The occasion may have been for the benefit of charity, but Manchester United's approach was competitive. Sir Alex aligned his best possible starting XI, with only the French goalkeeper, Fabien Barthez, missing through injury. England midfielder Paul Scholes was on the bench.

At the heart of defence, the home fans were given the first, and very short, glimpse of the new-look partnership of Laurent Blanc and Ferdinand. The pair were in total command of the Argentinian attackers, until injury forced Ferdinand's retirement on 25 minutes. Meanwhile, a rejuvenated Juan Sebastian Veron, and a much rested Roy Keane, marshalled the centre of midfield with great aplomb. Last season's constant criticism hurt Veron, but the South American seems determined to make his stay in England a successful one. He played in a deeper role yesterday, patrolling in front of the back four, and thus allowing Keane to make more penetrating runs through the middle.

What will happen when Scholes is fully fit remains to be seen but United looked balanced and after last season's chopping and changing, Sir Alex will be anxious to start with a much more settled side and formation. If this friendly is anything to go by, expect to see Beckham up and down the right flank, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer supporting last season's top scorer, Ruud van Nistelrooy, in a classic 4-4-2.

It took the Dutchman all of 18 minutes to score his first goal, following excellent work from Beckham and Veron. The latter collected a delicate chip from the former, before clipping the ball over his opposite midfield number and then delivering a perfect pass to Van Nistelrooy on the edge of the box. One touch and a fortuitous bounce later, and the striker had scored a clever goal with his left foot. The second was even more emphatic, a low, rifled right-foot shot five minutes from the break.

The sight of United's No 10 scoring goals is nothing new, but there were visible changes in other departments of the team. Not only did the players look fitter, but there were also subtle variations in their play. The full-backs, for example, pushed up much higher than last season, while Beckham was given more freedom to roam inside. The bulk of these alterations have been credited to the new assistant manager, Carlos Queiroz. The Portuguese coach is said to have injected a freshness to training, bringing his own ideas and methods. Sir Alex has always insisted that, far from being a club in turmoil, United simply needed Latin influence. Samba football could reach the youth team next, as Sir Alex is still looking to appoint a Brazilian. The World Cup-winning manager, Felipe Scolari, is now available.

The friendly nature of yesterday's encounter was sullied when Carlos Alberto Tevez was sent off for elbowing, but the win in front of nearly 56,000 fans meant mission accomplished, for both United and Unicef agent Moore.

Manchester United 2 Boca Juniors 0
Van Nistelrooy 17, 41

Half-time 2-0 Attendance: 55,942

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Life and Style
Visitors look at a drone equipped with cameras on a police car at the Gitex Technology week in Dubai
tech
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
News
i100(More than you think)
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
News
i100
News
people
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?