Photos: Burnley 0, Manchester United 0
Louis Van Gaal’s last trip to Turf Moor sparked a tenure of managerial decoration.
In the summer of 1992, fresh from a UEFA Cup triumph with Ajax, Van Gaal brought his squad to East Lancashire for an exhibition match against the champions of the old Fourth Division.
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Over 20 years ago, Aron Winter, Dennis Bergkamp, Wim Jonk, Bryan Roy and Frank de Boer were all absent, but Van Gaal had £59.7m British record signing Angel di Maria at his disposal on this occasion as well as the remainder of a starting XI that amounted to approximately £157m.
Argentinian di Maria was utilised in a central role alongside Juan Mata - a position he’d excelled in at Benfica and for spells at Real Madrid - and their were momentary glimpses of the 26-year-old’s world class pedigree.
His touch was exquisite, his pace frightening, and his movement cutting when linking up with forward pairing Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie.
However, the World Cup finalist couldn’t engineer the invention to find a route past a Clarets side that worked admirably and energetically.
In fact the home side went within inches of taking the lead. Former United youth player David Jones sent nostalgic waves reverberating around Turf Moor, but he couldn’t match the accuracy of Robbie Blake’s strike five years ago.
Phil Jones conceded the free-kick when clumsily forcing Lukas Jutkiewicz to ground, and Jones shaped a free-kick at goal that came back off the bar with David De Gea rooted to the spot.
United appeared on edge, the pressure of transition clearly impacting, and De Gea was forced to save with an outstretched leg once Jonny Evans’s poor back pass had allowed the striker a sight at goal.
United’s midfield was brimming with flair, but the visitors often ignored that and bypassed Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Di Maria and Mata with a direct approach.
It almost worked when Tyler Blackett’s pass was beautifully cushioned by Van Persie - who had been played onside by Michael Duff - but Tom Heaton raced off his line, stretched his frame, and saved the striker’s left-footed drive with his chest.
Mata’s miscue let the Clarets off the hook soon after when Van Persie and Di Maria combined mesmerically down the left, while the impressive Scott Arfield flicked wide from Jutkiewicz’s centre.
United’s fragility in a 3-5-2 set-up is the defence, and that weakness was exposed on a number of occasions by the hosts who pressed to force the error. That high line had the visitors retreating to the edge of the 18-yard box, which was inviting for Jones who went close once more.
Kieran Trippier’s throw was helped on by Jutkiewicz and Danny Ings before Jones’s thunderous shot was turned over quite animatedly by De Gea.
Di Maria showed another string to his bow when picking out Rooney with a diagonal pass from the halfway line, the new England captain guided the pass in to the path of Van Persie but Jason Shackell was on hand to make a tremendous last ditch challenge.
And in the final action of the half it was man-of-the-match Arfield, a freebie from Huddersfield Town, that showed Gordon Strachan why it was a mistake to leave him out of the Scotland squad.
The 25 year-old expertly rolled the ball through Blackett’s legs before cutting in to the box, driving past Darren Fletcher, and firing an effort towards the near post that was deflected wide off Phil Jones.
The second half was less action-packed, but as expected United forced the initiative. However, it was an undistinguished and relatively pedestrian display.
Mee’s unconvincing clearance from Rooney’s flick - after Di Maria won the tussle with Trippier - was rifled towards the corner by Van Persie but Dean Marney was positioned suitably to hook the ball off the line.
Danny Welbeck and Adnan Januzaj were introduced at the expense of Van Persie and Mata, but still there was little impetus. United, restricted to uninspiring horizontal passes in front of Burnley’s defence, showed very little creativity, and were only able to force set-pieces intermittently.
At the other end, Taylor attempted to catch De Gea offguard audaciously from a free-kick but the effort dipped too late.
Referee Chris Foy waved away penalty appeals when Young’s shot struck substitute Ashley Barnes’s arm - but these were merely cries of desperation from a United side craving that first victory.
On the other hand, Sean Dyche’s side go in to the international breaking having got off the mark in the Premier League with a first clean sheet in England’s top tier in 30 outings - which came in October 2009 as Graham Alexander’s double earned a 2-0 triumph over Hull City on home soil.