ANDER HERRERA could not be happier with the start he has made to life as a Manchester United player.
The beginning of the Premier League season may still be over two weeks away, but Herrera has already made a big impact at the club.
The Spaniard is one of seven players to have started every match on the pre-season tour of the United States.
United fans did not take long to warm to the midfielder. He had a hand in six of the seven goals scored in Louis van Gaal's first match in charge against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
With Michael Carrick out injured, there is a lot of pressure on Herrera's shoulders, so he is happy to have hit the ground running. "I feel it has gone well for me so far," Herrera said.
"I feel physically good and mentally I'm improving all the time.
"I'm happy with how I'm doing on the pitch and all the players are helping me in terms of integrating.
"My confidence is increasing with every game and I'm excited for the season ahead."
Midfield proved to be a problem area for Van Gaal's predecessor David Moyes last year.
Darren Fletcher understandably struggled to reach peak fitness following surgery to rectify his debilitating bowel condition. Tom Cleverley, Carrick and Marouane Fellaini had seasons to forget while Anderson was loaned to Fiorentina after falling out of favour with his manager.
The man who played a key role United's midfield for over a decade, Paul Scholes, believes the main area the team needs strengthening is at the back though.
Their best years may have been behind them, but when United let Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra depart this summer, they lost three players who had won 16 Premier League titles between them.
Losing that experience is a big blow for the club, according to Scholes, who thinks Van Gaal should recruit two new centre-backs.
"He's only got three recognised defenders," said Scholes.
"Michael Keane and Tyler Blackett are coming through but as far as experience goes he's missing a big chunk after losing Rio, Vidic and Evra.
"Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans are all good defenders but they do have their own injury problems.
"Hopefully they can get over them and have a full season.
"I'm sure they'll do well, but I think he'll look to bring a couple of defenders in."
Such is the paucity of defensive options open to Van Gaal, that he has had to deploy Ashley Young as a wing-back in the new 3-4-1-2 system while Luke Shaw regains his fitness.
The move has worked reasonably well for the team, with Young putting in two decent performances in the position.
Van Gaal, who successfully turned former Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt into a wing-back during the World Cup, firmly believes Young is capable of playing there this season and the player himself has no complaints about his new role.
"I am willing to stay there for the whole of the season, of course," the former Aston Villa man said.
Young and his United team-mates landed in Detroit ahead of their fourth game of the tour against Real Madrid.
The match against the European champions, which takes place at Ann Arbor's Michigan Stadium on the outskirts of Detroit, is expected to draw a record-breaking crowd of 109,000.
A win for Van Gaal's team will send them through to the final of the International Champions Cup, which takes place on Monday in Miami's Sun Life Stadium.