Manchester United faced Borussia Dortmund in the club’s final pre-season game of the United States tour.
Erik ten Hag would have undoubtedly been looking to correct the errors of the previous loss against Real Madrid by getting back to winning ways against Dortmund.
The United boss named Tom Heaton in goal.
In defence, Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Brandon Williams started ahead of the usual regulars.
A midfield trio of Scott McTominay, Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek was tasked with patrolling the middle of the park.
Jadon Sancho led the line once more and was flanked on either wing by Omari Forson and Facundo Pellistri.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-2 loss at the hands of Borussia Dortmund.
Sancho thriving in the false nine role
One of United’s best performers in the opening 45 minutes was Sancho.
The Englishman played up front and excelled in this role once more. He did well against Arsenal and he replicated that wonderful display against the Gunners once more.
Sancho combined well with his teammates and linked play well.
The 23-year-old came up with a number of really impressive and skilful touches that on more than one occasion, enabled him to evade and get past Dortmund’s defenders.
In terms of pressing, Sancho demonstrated an extreme willingness to initiate the defending as he lead from the front. At times, his work rate forced the rival goalkeeper to go long and in the process, cede back possession to Ten Hag’s men.
Sancho’s passing was crisp and he especially looked to release Pellistri with some superb through balls.
He regularly dropped deep when required to help in the build-up – an aspect of play Ten Hag likes in his strikers.
It was previously reported that the Dutch coach is experimenting with Sancho as a false nine with a view to shifting him into that position on a more permanent basis.
Ten Hag was understood to have been pleased with Sancho’s exploits against Arsenal.
Going by the forward’s performance at the Allegiant Stadium vs. Dortmund, Ten Hag will only be happier. Hopefully, these newfound responsibilities kickstart a period of more consistency for Sancho at Old Trafford ahead of the new season.
Pellistri is best served going out on loan
Pellistri was electric for United during the 60 minutes he was on the pitch before Ten Hag made wholesale personnel changes.
The Uruguayan constantly took his man on when the opportunity presented itself, using his incredible pace and quick feet to his advantage.
It should be noted that he played in a largely unfamiliar position – the left wing.
However, Pellistri’s final product was wanting and this is something he will be keen to rectify as he seeks to become an important player at the club.
At times during the game, he seemed to travel with the ball far more than needed and hold on to it too long, at the expense of a simple cross into the box.
The timing of his runs is also something the 21-year-old must improve if he is to fulfil his great potential and become the devastating forward he can be.
Pellistri certainly boasts a lot of raw talent and must be carefully nurtured. Currently, a loan move may suit him best.
He may not have ample opportunities to play with the first team next season, with competition for places in the attacking department at an all-time high, now more so with the imminent addition of Rasmus Hojlund.
For Pellistri to develop, he needs to be playing regularly and the Red Devils cannot offer him that guarantee.
A loan spell for at least one season suits all parties. This would enable him to fine-tune his game and become a more refined operator.
Already, the likes of FC Twente and Boca Juniors have been mentioned to be in for Pellistri.
Costly defensive blunders from United
Arguably all three goals conceded by United came from unforced errors and were preventable.
For the first, chaos and confusion in the backline with regard to the marking gifted Donyell Malen an almost empty goal to tap the ball into.
In the case of the second goal, a poor pass from Lindelof in an attempt to send the ball into midfield saw his effort intercepted.
Marcel Sabitzer found Malen again inside the United box, and the Netherlands international was all too happy to strike from close range to clinch his brace.
The third goal was conceded in almost a similar fashion as the second.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s erroneous pass was picked up by a Dortmund player. A sliding Youssoufa Moukoko got on the end of the subsequent cross to guide the ball into the back of the net.
United’s mistakes at the back should serve as a wake-up call with the new Premier League season only a corner away.
The Reds’ success last term was built on a solid and rigid backline and every effort should be made to ensure this strength does not become a weakness.