Manchester United beat Melbourne; What we learned, Erik ten Hag reaction
Manchester United continued their fine start to preseason under Erik ten Hag, as the Red Devils beat the Melbourne Victory 4-1 at a packed MCG.
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After going behind early on after a fine counter saw Chris Ikonomidis score, Scott McTominay’s deflected effort and a calm finish from Anthony Martial within the space of three minutes put them ahead just before half time.
A lovely finish from Marcus Rashford made it 3-1 in the second half, then an own goal from Edmond Lupancu late on wrapped up the win for ETH’s boys.
What we learned from Manchester United vs Melbourne Victory
Defensive issues being ironed out: Melbourne’s goal showcased that United still have plenty of work to do defensively, as Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof were caught out with one long ball down the flank and United’s pressing was off all over the pitch. This kind of mistake is probably why United have signed a left back (Tyrell Malacia) and are now close to signing a left-sided center back (Lisandro Martinez) this summer, plus it shows that ETH has a long way to go to fine-tune his pressing ideas.
Sancho, Fernandes, Dalot linking up superbly: On the other side of the pitch United are looking delicious. Jadon Sancho is cutting in from the right and causing so many problems, while Diogo Dalot’s fine cross set up United’s second. With Bruno Fernandes finding those half spaces in the areas Sancho vacates, United’s right side continues to be a huge positive.
Eric Bailly taking chances: He’s created goals with two marauding runs in the second half of games during preseason but he’s also looked a little shaky. With Martinez set to arrive, it looks like Bailly could be on the way out this summer. Unless he wants to sit behind Maguire, Lindelof, Varane and Martinez in the pecking order, he knows now is the time he should probably move on from Old Trafford. He will land at a top club in Europe if he does move on and after injury issues, Bailly is showing in spells what he can do.
Two wins from two for Ten Hag
Speaking to United’s TV channel after the game, Erik ten Hag reflected on a positive start to preseason and liked how his side responded and kept their calm after going behind early.
Martial impressing after fresh start
Erik ten Hag also had special praise for Anthony Martial (who has two goals in United’s first two preseason friendlies) as he pretty much confirmed the French forward would remain at United this season.
“I’m sure he can come back even better,” Erik ten Hag said when talking to reporters. “When he has the right focus and motivation and he works hard, he will have production because he’s a good player. When he has the right focus every day to live his max, he will have production. It is up to him.”
Martial spent the second half of last season on loan at Sevilla and was a bit-part player under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo.
With Ronaldo’s future still uncertain, perhaps Martial can step up and fill that huge void of being not only the goalscorer United need but also a player who can stretch defenses and open up space for other forwards to exploit.
He scored a quality goal against Liverpool in the 4-0 win and stretched their defense with his clever runs in-behind. He also showcases his calmness with his finish against Melbourne. Martial has become the forgotten man at United but this clean slate seems to have worked very well for him.