Last updated : 04 August 2004 By Editor
A puny attendance of 29,479 was at Old Trafford last night for the Vodafone tournyb*ll*cks. That sort of turnout would have been unthinkable until recently.

From the Guardian:

A sodden occasion this may have been but Manchester United did enough to have opponents from Romania and Slovakia casting anxious glances towards next week's Champions League qualifier. Sir Alex Ferguson's side are purring into form and fitness; Dinamo Bucharest and Zilina have reason to be nervous.

This was never more than a pedestrian fixture to ease United into the four-team tournament but there were still distinct signs of promise. Ruud van Nistelrooy and Louis Saha had their first football of pre-season and Alan Smith enjoyed an enthusiastic home debut.

News of Paul Scholes's international retirement was filtering through the drenched arena as the fans watched Boca Juniors trounce the Japanese Urawa Red Diamonds 5-2 in the opening fixture. The home partisans among a crowd of 29,479 were disappointed that the midfielder was rested, however, confined to the directors' box flanked by Rio Ferdinand and Tim Howard.

Scholes's pre-season has amounted to an hour against Milan in New Jersey but he will play against Red Diamonds tomorrow. In his absence United emerged intact from the scrappy opening exchanges despite attempts from Theo Lucius and John de Jong, for Mikaël Silvestre to leap gracefully and flick in Ryan Giggs's corner midway through the half. The lead sparked United, Chris Eagles busy in midfield with Saha and Diego Forlán buzzing off Van Nistelrooy.

Smith was introduced at half-time and might have scored with his first touch but collided with Saha as he attempted an extravagant scissors-kick. The former Leeds striker was as spiky as ever, launching himself into challenges, though his side might have surrendered their advantage had Ricardo not turned aside Otman Bakkal's crunched near-post shot.

The Portuguese goalkeeper was helpless when Alex thumped a blistering free-kick on to the underside of the bar from 30 yards, however, but United escaped. Next week's Champions League opponents may not be so fortunate.

Manchester United (4-3-2-1): Ricardo; G Neville, Brown (Richardson, 74), Silvestre, O'Shea; Eagles, P Neville, Giggs (Bellion, 82); Forlán, Saha (Djemba-Djemba, h-t); Van Nistelrooy (Smith, h-t). Subs not used: Carroll, Spector, Bardsley.

PSV (4-2-3-1): Gomes; Colin (Lamey, 66), Ooijer (Alex, h-t), Bouma (Smit, 78), Bogelund; De Jong, Lucius; Bakkal (Vonlanthen, 66), Feher (Takak, 55), Beasley; Sibon (Vennegoor of Hesselink, h-t). Subs not used: Zoetebier.

Referee: M Messias

Fergie said:

"We were a bit short in terms of sharpness and penetration, but it's coming. It was important they got this under their belts and it'll bring them along to the level we'll need them to be next Wednesday."