Manchester United wrapped up their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia in unbeaten fashion, with Erik ten Hag getting off to a successful start as manager.
A rampant 4-0 victory over Liverpool in Bangkok kicked off the pre-season and was followed up with victories and impressive displays against Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace.
The Red Devils rounded off their time on the other side of the world with a scrappy 2-2 draw against Aston Villa in Perth, but left unbeaten and looking refreshed by the new manager’s ideas.
There is still plenty of work to do to get United firing on all fours once again, and that starts with finishing the pre-season strong as two more games still await the team.
United are still to face Atletico Madrid in Oslo and Rayo Vallecano a day later at Old Trafford, where new signings Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen are expected to meet up with the squad for the first time.
We’ve already seen a lot of the Red Devils at this point, though, and more importantly what we can expect from them as they take shape for the 2022/23 campaign. That includes a style of play, who could be involved in implementing that throughout the season, and who likely won’t be.
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Ten Hag has undoubtedly learned about the squad he has inherited during their pre-season tour and will merely be tweaking ideas and concepts in the remaining two games, ahead of the Premier League opener in August. Conclusions will have been drawn about what players are of use to him and what players aren’t.
So, with that in mind, we at GIVEMESPORT have decided to draw some conclusions following the conclusion of the tour, and picked out the biggest winners and losers from United’s pre-season so far.
Following a disappointing couple of seasons that culminated in a disastrous loan spell at Sevilla, it looked nailed on that Martial would finally leave Old Trafford this summer.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence from tour – and possible departure – has given the Frenchman a lifeline which he has grasped with both hands, bagging in three out of four games. It now feels a certainty that he will at least start the season as United’s number one striker once again, brimming with a rediscovered confidence.
A timid debut season in Manchester saw Sancho lost in the shuffle somewhat, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer unsure of how to get the best out of him and the season beyond salvaging by the time Ralf Rangnick had arrived.
However, Ten Hag has immediately made Sancho a permanent fixture on the right flank and bolstered him by making United a more front-footed outfit, allowing his creativity to flourish. He looked refreshed.
The young midfielder made his senior debut in late 2021 but remained a rather unknown quantity upon joining the tour. That has since changed, with United fans desperate to see more of Iqbal at the base of midfield next season.
Iqbal has immediately demonstrated technical ability, press resistance and an effective passing range despite his lacking experience, and wasn’t intimidated at all during the tour. One to watch.
United are inundated with central defenders and the signing of Martinez hasn’t aided that issue. Bailly has been touted as a player who could leave, but his pre-season performances suggest he could actually play a big part in the coming season.
Bailly has looked back to his ruthless best under Ten Hag, and his composure in possession of the ball could be key to helping the new manager’s system embed more smoothly, with Bailly being comfortable playing in a higher line.
Donny van de Beek
Oh, Donny. Many thought that this pre-season would be the time Van de Beek finally flourished in a United shirt. He hasn’t done that.
By no means has the Dutchman been a disaster, he merely just looks very average and, yet again, rather ineffective. He is too quick to leave his position from deeper, and has often looked like a passenger when given the chance. It’s hard to envisage him being a regular starter next season. Rotation arm at best.
The signing of Tyrell Malacia spelled bad news for Telles from the get go, who never quite looked at the level required last season. He’s had plenty of minutes during pre-season so far, but seems to have been used as a placeholder for the incoming Martinez.
Once Martinez arrives, it’s difficult to see where Telles can realistically get minutes in Ten Hag’s United side. Don’t be surprised if he’s deemed surplus to requirements.
Garnacho’s pre-season has been an underwhelming one, mainly because he’s barely managed to get a look-in. And after such a hot end to the 2021/22 season, it’s not what United fans would’ve expected.
The young Argentine has plenty of time to impress Ten Hag and all the talent to do so, but it looks as though he’ll have to wait a little longer for a chance to stake his claim in the first team.
Some United fans hoped that Ten Hag’s arrival could see Wan-Bissaka coached into a more useful asset, more capable of being effective in possession. Instead, the Dutchman has settled on Diogo Dalot as his starting right-back, it seems.
Wan-Bissaka was signed for £50 million by United only three years ago, thus it would be a shame to see him not given a chance to be improved. If he wants to win back his spot, though, he’s going to have to be patient and show some progression on the training ground. Ten Hag’s mind regarding his number one right-back appears to be made up at the moment.