Home ยป Four things to watch out for in Manchester United’s pre-season

Four things to watch out for in Manchester United’s pre-season

by Vatsal Gupta

Manchester United’s pre-season fixture list has taken shape amid the madness of the transfer window.

Pre-season is always an exciting time with the potential for new faces to emerge, the prospect of seeing signings in action for the first time, and for the tactics aficionados to know about new trends being tried by the manager.

Man United’s pre-season this year could be the most important one in a long time as several players are fighting for their future and some transformative signings could take their first steps in the famous red shirt.

Man United’s pre-season will begin with a fixture against arch-rivals Leeds United in Oslo, Norway. From there, they play six games in two weeks, starting with a game against Olympique Lyon on July 19.

Here are four big things to watch out for in the Man United pre-season as the team’s return to action inches closer.

Which youngster will make his mark?

Last year, a certain Alejandro Garnacho made the news in pre-season after being disciplined by the manager for late arrivals to squad meetings.

He is now a superstar-in-the-making with reports indicating the No 7 jersey could be his. Erik ten Hag made a point by setting the standards and despite not playing, a young player had a defining moment in his career.

Many youngsters will be eagerly looking forward to the Man United pre-season for the same reason.

Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri will be itching to impress the manager to avoid going out on loan. In midfield, Kobbie Mainoo could be this year’s “Alejandro Garnacho”.

It is also decision time for Hannibal Mejbri who is coming off his first loan spell but his contract expires soon.

A statement pre-season could open the door for them and soothe Ten Hag’s headaches as he tries to add quality to the squad by buying from outside.

A solution in-house is the dream scenario and the Man United pre-season is the ideal time to test it out.

Last-chance saloon for many

It is an open secret that United’s restrictive transfer budget means they have to sell to buy. Consequently, as many as 13 senior players have been made available for transfers, including club captain Harry Maguire.

For these players, Man United’s pre-season is their last chance to prove their worth to the manager.

Besides Scott McTominay, it is unlikely that any of the transfer-listed players get wages matching their United contract elsewhere, in addition to a step down in club quality.

Therefore, they will be driven to save their United careers by proving the doubters wrong by putting in commanding performances in Man United’s pre-season fixtures.

For the likes of Alex Telles and Anthony Elanga, whose fates at the club are pretty much sealed, it would still be worth giving their all to put themselves in the shop window.

A good or a bad pre-season could be the difference between whether their next club is in Europe fighting for honours, or it’s out of Europe altogether.

Tactical trend with new signing(s)

Recent United managers have rarely been in a position where they have a new signing in the squad before the start of Man United’s pre-season.

Ten Hag could start with two.

Mason Mount’s arrival is all but completed and the Andre Onana deal could also move quickly and be secured before July 12.

Pre-season is a giddy time for fans anyways but the prospect of seeing two new signings in action ramps up the excitement.

Mason Mount, in particular, will be an interesting case as all reports have suggested that he was Ten Hag’s primary target.

Comfortable playing as a central midfielder, attacking midfielder, or on the wing, his signing could bring about Ten Hag’s first major tactical shift.

It would be interesting to see if the Dutchman lines up United in a more conventional 4-3-3 now that Mount’s athleticism replaces Christian Eriksen in the first team.

As for Onana, it would be a breath of fresh air to have a commanding goalkeeper take control of the ball and use it confidently.

It has the potential to transform United’s buildup in the first half of the pitch and the early seeds of that revolution can be sowed during Man United’s pre-season.

The Hollywood fixture

It is an amazing thing that out of all the fixtures in Man United’s pre-season, one of the most anticipated games is their fixture against a League Two side.

However, Wrexham are no ordinary fourth-tier team. Hollywood royalty Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have transformed the club on and off the pitch.

United are marketing monsters, and Wrexham are an emerging force in the same field. This is a true Hollywood fixture, one which also solidifies United’s place as the most bankable team in the world despite years out of relevance in the Premier League title race.

Add to that the prospect of a potentially academy-heavy team representing United, it will be a golden opportunity for the club’s stars of tomorrow to play in front of a raucous crowd.

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