Manchester United may have lost 2-1 to Swansea City on Saturday, but there were still reasons to be cheerful.
Louis van Gaal gave debuts to two young players in the form of Jesse Lingard and Tyler Blackett, and while the former had to leave the field early due to injury, the latter played the entire match and gave a solid performance.
While Michael Keane and Tom Thorpe were the young defenders many fans thought would be given more chances this season, Blackett was the surprise inclusion after impressing on the club's pre-season tour. And while it could be argued he featured on Saturday more due to necessity than anything else, he showed enough to suggest he can become a regular feature in the United back-line in seasons to come.
Against Swansea, Blackett played 84 accurate passes - more than any other United player. He also won three aerial duels, made two interceptions, three effective clearances and three such clearances with his head.
He outdid the considerably more experienced Phil Jones in all but one area listed below (interceptions) and did not look like a fish out of water when compared with his older teammates.
|Team||Pos||Accurate Pass||Aerial Won||Interception||Effective Clearance||Effective Head Clearance||Mins|
|Tyler Blackett||Man Utd||DF||84||3||2||3||3||90|
|Chris Smalling||Man Utd||DF||73||7||1||5||4||90|
|Phil Jones||Man Utd||DF||61||2||4||1||1||90|
Perhaps most impressively, Blackett's pass-accuracy was the second-best of any United player on Saturday, with only Nani's 93.75% bettering the 20-year-old's 93.33%.
United's defenders were given a lot of time on the ball compared with the players further up the pitch, but it was still a very composed display from a young man making his first competitive appearance for the club.
In short, while Louis van Gaal will almost certainly be dipping into the transfer market to buy at least one new centre-back before the window closes, Blackett showed enough to suggest he could have a big future at United.
|David de Gea||71.43|