Manchester United thrashed Liverpool in Erik Ten Hag’s first game as manager. While it was only a pre-season fixture, fans were interested to see how United would play under their new manager. The result is not that important in these games, the imperative elements to look for are the aspects United have worked on under the Dutchman.
Positive start for Manchester United under Erik Ten Hag
With Jürgen Klopp stating that no game between the two rivals can be classed as a friendly, the high-tempo both teams started the game with was no surprise. United pressed high and while they were vulnerable to chances, they created good situations. The front three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Jadon Sancho were fluid and all three attackers caused Liverpool’s back-line problems. This was expected as Ten Hag likes his team to press high and the front-line possesses the pace to put pressure on the oppositions’ defense.
One thing which was impressive was the way Untied utilized possession. Fred and McTominay always made themselves available for the ball and did not hide in the game, something which both were criticized for last season. They also moved the ball quickly in transitions and were a good link between defense and attack. Diogo Dalot was bright at right-back and switched the ball to Luke Shaw well at times. Switching possession is something United struggled with last season and this was a positive sign.
Anthony Martial now has the chance to revive his United career after it seems Cristiano Ronaldo will leave the club this summer. The Frenchman enjoyed a good 45 minutes and showed to everyone he still has the ability and talent to start for United consistently next season. His hold-up play was good and he took his goal brilliantly as he stole the ball off the defender and elegantly chipped Alisson Becker.
Sancho was the brightest spark for United in the first half as he started the game in his preferred position on the right. He treated the fans in Bangkok to brilliant skills and took his goal well, with a clinical finish. Marcus Rashford was sharp and interchanged well with Bruno Fernandes as time, but it seems Rashford needs a spell of games in pre-season to get back to his highest level.
Zidane Iqbal and Charlie Savage both deserve massive praise as they were up against Liverpool’s first team for the last half hour. They both operated as sixes in the middle of the park which are the most demanding positions in the side. Both players were tidy on the ball and did not shy away from the ball, which is brilliant to see as they are both so young. The best thing for these youngsters is the fact they are playing under a manager who is an expert in developing youth and turning them into stars.
After the game Ten Hag stated that while he was satisfied with the outcome, he picked up on a lot of mistakes. This is everything Untied fans will want to hear as while the fans can get excited, the players cannot. They must continue to work hard and improve on aspects they struggled with.
Pressing is an element of the game the team still needs to work on. It was much more positive and effective than last season but when losing the ball, they left a lot of space in behind for Liverpool to exploit.
United generally kept the ball well in the first half however they needed to show a bit more composure to avoid losing the ball when their attacks broke down. Thie would have prevented the openings they offered to Liverpool when possession was turned over.