Home » Three things we learned from Manchester United’s friendly defeat against Real Betis

Three things we learned from Manchester United’s friendly defeat against Real Betis

by Derick Kinoti

Manchester United took part in another friendly in Spain ahead of the resumption of club football, this time against Real Betis.

Erik ten ag fielded the same starting XI as he did in the defeat against Cadiz with the exception of Isak Hansen-Aarøen, who came in as a late addition in place of Donny van de Beek.

The United boss would have undoubtedly been keen to get his side firing and back to winning A lateafter he expressed his disappointment at some aspects of the team’s game in the 4-2 defeat against Cadiz.

We learned three things from Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat against Real Betis.

Steady first half

Compared to the first half against Cadiz, United was much better vs Manuel Pellegrini’s men.

The team was better defensively and was more capable of warding off the Spanish team’s advances. The Real Betis players were limited to the edge of the United box, and in the few instances they broke into the box, the backline dealt with them appropriately.

There was greater control in the midfield area, where Zidane Iqbal was pulling strings and dictating the game’s tempo.

In terms of attacking forays, the Red Devils looked more composed and capable despite heading into the broke goalless.

However, Betis had more than double the number of shots compared to Ten Hag’s side. The La Liga club had nine shots compared to United’s four.

They also registered a shot-on-target, a feat the 20-time English champions did not manage even once.

United had a more significant share of the ball in the opening 45 minutes. 56% possession to a senior Betis side who mustered a 44% ball retention percentage.

While Ten Hag will have been disappointed with his players’ lack of imagination and creativity, he will be encouraged by the fact that they were defensively sound and looked much better than a few days ago.

Alejandro Garnacho and Zidane Iqbal are the standouts

Alejandro Garnacho was United’s danger man, and if the Reds were to break the deadlock, it’s likely it would have been through him.

Restored to his favoured left flank after a stint on the right against Cadiz, Garnacho looked more of a threat.

He was able to run at players, commit them and be devastating. He also linked well with Anthony Martial. No wonder fans in the stands were chanting “Viva Garnacho.”

Like Garnacho, Iqbal was also impactful in the middle of the park, where he formed a pivot with Scott McTominay. The 19-year-old showed his class again about his technical ability.

Following up on a good performance against Cadiz, Iqbal looked comfortable in tight spaces, was excellent in his passing, and looked forward when an opportunity presented itself.

Another impeccable aspect of his game is how he made himself available for the defenders and looked to be the primary link between defence and attack.

Hopefully, when club football returns, Iqbal gets a shot at making a significant jump and becoming a regular first-team player, similar to what happened with Garnacho.

Lack of quality depth/options is still an issue

Even in an essentially meaningless friendly game, the lack of options for the manager was a glaring problem.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka showed why his exit from United is looming.

When Martial was withdrawn during the break, it fell upon Shola Shoretire to play in the striker role. This gamble never paid off as the academy graduate failed to have any meaningful impact from the position.

Clearly, most of the youngsters who played a part are far from ready and still require careful nurturing. They cannot be reliably depended on as sufficient backups.

The club must only allow the January window to bypass them by reinforcing the ranks and adding further. The outcome of United’s season may hinge on it.

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