It wasn't pretty, not by a long stretch, but Manchester United began their English Premier League campaign with three points, courtesy a 1-0 victory over Tottenham at Old Trafford.
Failing to find their top gear in attack, a Kyle Walker own goal midway through the first half was all that was needed in a sometimes-exciting, but mostly-underwhelming Premier League opener.
Manchester United, lining up along expected lines, with Sergio Romero, Matteo Darmian, who had an outstanding debut, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay all making their debuts, took a fair while to get started, with Tottenham jumping out of the blocks much better and looking the more likely team to score.
They should have scored in the fifth minute as well, as Christian Eriksen found himself clear on goal, controlling a wonderful dink pass by Harry Kane, before lifting the ball over Romero, and unfortunately for Spurs, inches over the crossbar as well. Ten percent less power on that shot, and it would have crept under the woodwork and rippled the net.
It was not to be for Tottenham, however, and despite a few more encouraging moves, especially with Manchester United leaving plenty of space in behind, it was the home team that took the lead on 22 minutes.
Spurs only have themselves to blame for the goal, with Nadil Bentaleb, starting in centre midfield alongside Erik Dier, giving the ball away cheaply and allowing Manchester United to counter. The ball fell to Ashley Young on the right, and the England midfielder played a low ball in for an unmarked Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United captain pondered on the ball a little too long, allowing Kyle Walker, who was given a rollicking by Young in the same fixture last season, to nip in and take the ball, but such was Tottenham's fortune that the ball crept past Michel Vorm in goal and into the bottom of the net.
The goal came before Manchester United had taken a single shot, let alone one on target – they would have one target in total at the end of the 90 minutes.
After the goal, however, Manchester United grew in confidence, finally finding their attacking groove, with Juan Mata in particular making an impression. The Spaniard, starting on the right again, with Memphis (as he wants to be known apparently) preferred in the No.10 role, kept making those runs inside, pulling the Spurs defenders out of position and drawing fouls with some intelligent play.
There would be no further strikes, though, and the second half saw Tottenham try their best to get back into the game, but with Kane unable to get into the game enough, and Eriksen not his usual influential self, Manchester United held onto the lead comfortably enough, bringing that Van Gaal possession style into play, to ensure they would start the Premier League campaign with three points.
Louis Van Gaal also had time to give a fifth Manchester United player – Bastian Schweinsteiger – his debut, with the German midfielder doing what he needed to do, even picking up a yellow card to stun one Spurs attack, in the final 20-odd minutes to see his team to victory.