Pitchside

Losers and winners: Van Gaal, Ramsey and… a pigeon?

Pitchside

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Losers

Louis van Gaal's mystique

The Dutchman strode into Manchester United off the back of a superb World Cup, and immediately had media and fans swooning with his tactical mastery and magnificently blunt manner. Here was the man United should have appointed after Fergie, a man with the cojones to restore them to greatness. 45 minutes of football later his carefully crafted three-man defence was junked; and after another 45 some japester changed his name on Wikipedia to David Moyes II.

Ander Herrera

There were, of course, any number of potential losers at Old Trafford on Saturday. But we've picked out the £29 million Athletic Bilbao midfielder, who was supposed to be the big-hitter to transform Manchester United's midfield. Fans were salivating over Vines of his pre-season trickery, but a Jonjo Shelvey tackle three minutes into his Premier League debut seemed to knock the continental stuffing out of him - and he barely made a contribution thereafter.

Jon Moss

The man charged with refereeing Arsenal's season-opener against Crystal Palace has been a resident of Planet Earth for 44 years, but has apparently remained unfamiliar with the usage of aerosol cans. And all that gunk he got in his eye clearly affected his eyesight as he sent Palace's Jason Puncheon off for a challenge that really wasn't too bad.

Mauricio Pochettino

Nothing kills off a promising manager's reputation than failure to put away underwhelming teams in tight, 50-50 matches. So Tottenham's new boss will no doubt have been saying Ave Marias all night in thanks for Erik Dier's 93rd-minute winner at West Ham on Saturday. His reaction said it all: squint a bit and you'd have sworn that the figure dancing on the Upton Park touchline was actually the ghost of Andre Villas-Boas.

Charlie Austin

Welcome back to the big time, QPR. After a summer spent dreaming of playing against the world's finest players in huge, packed stadia, the reality of the Premier League kicked in. Harry Redknapp's men were turned over 1-0 by Hull in front of 17,000 at Loftus Road, and were left to rue Charlie Austin's fluffed late penalty.

Winners

Manchester City

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Premier League - Manchester City grind out win at Newcastle

Manchester United lost, Liverpool and Arsenal both needed late goals to avoid behind held on the opening day - but Manuel Pellegrini's side came through as comfortable winners despite a tough opening away trip to Newcastle. The ever-injured Sergio Aguero made it back onto the pitch and onto the scoresheet, Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure finally seem happy and keen to stay, and the champions look like they've hit the ground running.

Aaron Ramsey

After the Welshman's superb breakout season, the question hung in the air: is Aaron Ramsey really this good, or was that a flash in the pan. The good news for Arsenal fans is that Ramsey still looks like their most dynamic and influential player. And it might have been a tap-in, but his late goal typified his ability to make decisive contributions as he lifted an otherwise unconvincing Arsenal side to victory.

Mauricio Pochettino

Nothing kills off a promising manager's reputation than failure to put away underwhelming teams in tight, 50-50 matches. So Tottenham's new boss will no doubt have been saying Ave Marias all night in thanks for Erik Dier's 93rd-minute winner at West Ham on Saturday. His reaction said it all: squint a bit and you'd have sworn that the figure dancing on the Upton Park touchline was actually the ghost of Andre Villas-Boas. And the big thing is that he spared himself all the jokes about why he hadn't signed this joker:

The Old Trafford pigeon / fan

Nobody could quite agree on whether Ashley Young was bulls-eyed by a lump of bird poo or a lump of spittle propelled on the wind by a fan sitting in the upper reaches of the stands at Old Trafford. Everybody could agree that it was both disgusting and hilarious in equal measure.

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