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Manchester United youngsters impress again on Melbourne Victory outing

by Derick Kinoti

Manchester United came from behind to cruise to a 4-1 win against Melbourne Victory in the team’s second fixture of the pre-season tour. United clinched the win with goals from Scott McTominay, Anthony Martial, a second-half finish from Marcus Rashford and a deflected own goal from Tahith Chong’s ferocious cross into the box late into the game.

The win comes just three days from United’s 4-0 thumping of bitter rivals Liverpool in Bangkok. Another display in which tenets and glimpses of new manager Erik ten Hag’s philosophy were on display, there is plenty for United fans to look forward to ahead of the new season.

In yet another outing, it is United’s youngsters and academy players who stole the show in Melbourne. Similar to the game against Liverpool, there were plenty of positives to take from the perfomances of United’s young players, many of whom have been given the opportunity to impress the new boss and force themselves into his plans.

While the first-half team fielded by Ten Hag in Melbourne mainly consisted of first-team options and established players, most of United’s young proteges were handed the opportunity to impress in the second half.

Some of those who played in that half included Ethan Laird, who played as a right-sided full-back, Zidane Iqbal and Charlie Savage in midfield, and Tahith Chong on the right wing with Amad Diallo leading the attack.

Young Iqbal, who has been the name on most United fans’ lips since his heroic displays against Liverpool, was once again on show with another stellar performance. Iqbal, who represents the first British South Asian footballer in Manchester United’s history, is undoubtedly lining himself up to become United’s pre-season breakout youngster.

Not only did the 19-year-old look comfortable on the ball, he also looked composed and assured of himself in tight spaces. The player also looked confident with his passing and executed his defensive responsibilities to perfection.

Speaking after the game, Iqbal said, “The manager is amazing. Giving us different tactics off the ball, on the ball. He’s got an idea. It’s early doors obviously, I think we’re in the third week of pre-season, but we kind of have an idea of what we need to do.”

Iqbal’s midfield partner Charlie Savage was another standout performer in United’s 4-1 win. Tenacious, with an excellent passing range, Savage linked up well with Iqbal, acquitting themselves spectacularly yet again as a partnership, in the same fashion they did against Liverpool.

Savage and Iqbal are clearly loving life on tour, and if their performances are anything to go by, the two may have a role to play within the first team in the upcoming campaign. Certainly, Erik ten Hag has been given something to think about.

Another standout performer in the Red Devils’ victory against Melbourne Victory was 22-year-old Tahith Chong. Predominantly playing off the right in attack, the Dutchman convincingly held his own, even playing a key part in United’s fourth goal late into the game. In instances, Chong showed instances of his blistering pace and intelligent positioning from which he could receive the ball and attack the defense. With United light in attacking options, especially in the right, could Chong be a solution in this area for Ten Hag?

20-year-old Ivory Coast international Diallo played down the middle again as he did in the second half against Liverpool. Initially appearing rusty, the Ivorian steadily grew into the game and made his mark with brilliant one-touch play and dropping into deep positions.

United fans worldwide will be encouraged by their young stars who look intent on grabbing their opportunities with both hands. There is hope that others like Alejandro Garnacho and Will Fish will also get their chance to shine on tour.

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