Five things we learned as Manchester United beat Derby 2-1

Manchester United have played the first of five pre-season friendly matches.

United beat Derby at Pride Park on a satisfying afternoon for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Here is a look at five things we learned from the game, and you can also watch the goals…

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Minutes in the tank

The first point to make is that no pre-season result really matters. Think back to the storming 2014 start under Louis van Gaal followed up by an opening Premier League defeat to Swansea for evidence of that.


The aim here was to get the players fit, and assess them closely. With that in mind, there were plenty of changes.

This was United’s starting XI: Heaton; Wan-Bissaka, Mengi, Tuanzebe, Williams; Levitt, Garner; Elanga, Mata (c), Chong; Greenwood.

United made nine changes at half-time with just Mengi and Tuanzebe keeping their places.

Grant, Telles, Galbraith, Matic, Pereira, Pellistri, Lingard, Shoretire, Hugill came on at half-time.

Will Fish and Di’Shon Bernard came on at centre-back for the final half an hour. Hannibal also got some minutes, replacing Joe Hugill for the last 12. That made it 23 players in total who featured.

United did win the game 2-1, with Derby pulling a goal back after United had gone two up.

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Tahith Chong creates himself a goal

Tahith Chong won’t feature for Manchester United in 2021/22 after moving on loan to Birmingham City. This was a chance for him to impress before heading to the Blues.

Chong grabbed his chance and gave himself a required confidence boost in the process.

He nipped into take advantage of a poor Derby touch on the edge of the box, and ran at goal before scoring. It was a goal of sheer persistence and showed he can be a difference maker.

A big year awaits him on loan and scoring against a Championship side is a good sign for his year at Birmingham. Don’t completely write him off just yet.

Dylan Levitt and James Garner renew midfield partnership

Dylan Levitt and James Garner have played together a lot for United’s academy sides. But after a year each out on loan, it has been a while. Upon renewing their partnership it looked like they had not had a break at all.

The pair helped United get up and down the pitch and were calm under pressure in midfield.

Interest in both players will intensify after this with clubs circling to sign them on loan. But in Garner’s case in particular, United will be weighing up keeping him.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Strong first appearance for Tom Heaton

Goalkeeper Tom Heaton looked sharp upon his return as a Manchester United player.

He made one excellent point blank save from corner from close range and had earlier dealt with a dangerous ball into the box very effectively.

If one of Henderson and De Gea are moved on this summer and Heaton is number two, United should feel confident having the veteran play in some cup games.

His experience appeared to help a young defence in this game and he will be very pleased with his performance.

Facundo Pellistri produces lively performance

Facundo Pellistri may follow Tahith Chong in heading out on loan, and he also got on the scoresheet after replacing him at half-time.

The Uruguayan made a good impression by winning a free-kick just a couple of minutes in. He was confident in possession and drifted infield from the right wing.

Pellistri’s goal was very well taken. He latched onto a Shola Shoretire through ball and rounded the goalkeeper before tapping into an empty net.

This was the Uruguayan’s first appearance for a United first team and it was the perfect way to make his mark.

If any United supporter was wondering why the club signed the 19-year-old, he has just shown why.

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Manchester United pre-season fixtures 2021

  1. Derby County (away)

    Sunday July 18, 1pm

  2. QPR (away)

    Saturday July 24, 3pm

  3. Brentford (home)

    Wednesday July 28, 8pm

  4. Preston North End (away)

    Saturday July 31, 2pm

  5. Everton (home)

    Saturday August 7, 12.45pm

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