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Five talking points from Manchester United's pre-season tour

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Manchester United concluded their pre-season tour of the USA with a disappointing defeat to PSG. United fans who had stayed up to watch the game witnessed an underwhelming performance as United went down 2-0 in Chicago.

It was United's only defeat of the tour but it has raised a number of concerns ahead of the big kick-off next weekend. So after victories against Club America, San Jose Earthquakes and Barcelona, as well as a defeat to the French champions, what have we learnt about United?

Here are five talking points from the pre-season tour.

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HERRERA'S STARTING SPOT UNDER THREAT

Ander Herrera was widely regarded as one of the better signings that Louis van Gaal made in his first summer with United. The Spaniard was impressive in the second half of the season and managed a total of six goals and four assists during the course of the campaign. It looked as if Herrera could feature in United's midfield for years to come.

However the arrivals of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger have cast doubt over his starting place. The 25-year-old didn't start a game during the tour of the USA. It's a strange call from van Gaal when you consider how well he was playing at the end of last season. What was apparent, particularly against PSG, was a lack of mobility in midfield. Schweinsteiger and Carrick simply can't provide the legs that Herrera can.

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DARMIAN IMPRESSES

A few United fans weren't convinced with the clubs capture of Italian right-back Matteo Darmian. There were certainly more high-profile targets that the club could have perused. Thankfully, the signing of the youngster looks to be a shrewd piece of business. The 25-year-old has really impressed during the pre-season tour and looks to have settled in quickly at United.

Van Gaal may have said "We have brought Darmian for the second position behind Valencia" but the Italian will surely be a regular in the team next season. The tall full-back appears to be better than the Ecuadorian in almost every respect. During this tour he's proven than he can defend and also attack, displaying far superior end product to that of his rival for the position.

ROONEY DOESN'T LOOK SHARP

With van Gaal challenging his captain to score "20-25 goals" in the next campaign, pre-season could have gone better for the Englishman. Granted, the 29-year-old found the net against Barcelona but overall it's been an underwhelming pre-season from the forward. Finally free to play in his favourite role you would have expected the player to shine during the tour, but he's looked rusty to say the least.

With the season just nine days away, at the time of writing, it's a worry that the United captain isn't looking sharp. Despite some promising link up play with new signing Memphis Depay, Rooney will have been disappointed with his displays. At times his first touch deserted him and he often shot wildly over the bar. Van Gaal seems to have faith in his captain but the jury is still out over whether he can really challenge for the Golden Boot.

LUKE SHAW LOOKS FITTER

Luke Shaw endured a disastrous debut season at United, as injury limited him to just 16 appearances in the Premier League. Such were the left-backs fitness problems that he managed to complete a full 90 minutes just seven times. However after accepting responsibility for his forgettable first season Shaw looks to be fit and raring to go ahead of the new season.This was a crucial pre-season for Shaw and he has stepped up to the plate.

The Englishman started all four of United's games during the pre-season tour, a good omen ahead of the new campaign. The 20-year-old was quite clearly fitter than he was last season, looking trimmer and displaying the pace he became known for at Southampton. He was a stand out player on this tour and he'll hope he can carry his form into the competitive fixtures.

DEFENSIVE FRAILTIES REMAIN

United have done some excellent business during this transfer window but United fans will no doubt be frustrated that the club seems no closer to bringing in a new centre-half. With Sergio Ramos seemingly taking the club for a ride and United reported to not be interested in Otamendi, it looks like the Red Devils will start the season without reinforcements in the centre of defence.

It's simply flabbergasting that the club has yet to address it's biggest weakness. The centre of defence has been an issue ever since Vidic and Ferdinand moved on, but United seem in no rush to address the problem. The club may be strong in attack but it's strikingly clear that defensively they are still weak, which could prevent them mounting a serious title challenge.

Daley Blind has been used at centre-back during the tour and although he hasn't done badly, United fans wouldn't be happy if the Dutchman started the season in the position. While Blind provides composure and is willing to bring the ball out, he also lacks height and pace and is likely to be exposed in the Premier League.

Meanwhile Phil Jones hardly covered himself in glory during the tour, especially against PSG where he was at fault for both goals. The decision to start him over Smalling is mind boggling considering the improvement in Smalling last season. It will also come as a concern that David de Gea's mind appeared to be elsewhere during the defeat to PSG. United quite clearly need a new centre-half and this transfer window cannot be regarded as a success unless one comes in.

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Topics:
Ander Herrera
Louis van Gaal
Wayne Rooney
Luke Shaw
Manchester United
Phil Jones
Premier League
Daley Blind
Football

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