Manchester United faced Lens at Old Trafford as part of the club’s pre-season preparations ahead of the upcoming Premier League season.
After a run of three consecutive defeats during the United States tour, Erik ten Hag would have undoubtedly been keen to get back to winning ways and ensure his team have much-needed confidence before the new campaign.
The United boss named a very strong starting XI consisting of Andre Onana in goal with a defensive four of Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw ahead of him.
In midfield, Casemiro started alongside Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes.
Marcus Rashford led the line with Antony and Alejandro Garnacho on either side of him.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-1 win vs. Lens.
A starting berth at right-back very much up for grabs
Central to United’s defensive mistakes during the previous game against Borussia Dortmund at the Allegiant Stadium were errors by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Indeed, one of his passes which was intercepted by a rival player directly led to the Red Devils conceding a goal.
Wan-Bissaka’s poor display was made even more glaring by an exceptional performance by Diogo Dalot who even got on the score sheet.
It was almost a reverse of events vs. Lens, as it was a passing mishap by Dalot which gave the Ligue 1 outfit the chance to break the deadlock and take the lead.
Dalot’s slack pass to Varane saw the ball travel to Florian Sotoco who lobbed Onana from 40 yards out.
Looking across the team, right-back is probably the one position which does not have a guaranteed starter and it’s easy to see why. Neither Dalot nor Wan-Bissaka have done enough during pre-season to make it their own.
That part of the pitch is up for grabs and one cannot help but feel that whichever defender grabs their opportunity with both hands can nail down a starting berth at least in Ten Hag’s eyes.
It’s ultimately up to Dalot and Wan-Bissaka and who will show through their exploits on the pitch that they want it more.
Garnacho is more than ready to make the jump and become a guaranteed starter
United’s most threatening and liveliest attacker before coming off was Garnacho.
The electric Argentinian constantly took his man on and looked to make things happen from the channel.
His quick feet and skills were on full display for all to see and it’s no surprise the Lens defenders regularly resorted to cynically bringing him down as a measure of last resort.
Garnacho registered a fine assist for Antony’s goal and United’s second of the match.
Last term, the 19-year-old was primarily deployed from the bench by Ten Hag but all signs point to the fact that he is now ready to transition into becoming a regular presence in the Dutchman’s starting 11.
Garnacho’s hand is further strengthened by the need to gradually manage Rasmus Hojlund’s transition into English football.
Rashford will be required to play as the nine a number of times and it will fall on Garnacho’s shoulders to play on the left – a task he is equal to.
Still plenty to work on before the Wolves game
The 20-time English champions still have a lot to polish up on despite winning by two goals.
In terms of putting up a more complete performance across the 90 minutes and being commanding in possession, these are aspects of the game Ten Hag will be keen to refine on the training ground before the opening tie against Wolves on August 14.
United also need to fashion more clear-cut goalscoring opportunities in addition to cutting out the lapses of concentration especially at the back.
In brief periods of the clash, Lens looked capable of finding the back of the net especially in transition.
United are barely the finished article and this showed against Franck Haise’s men.