Manchester United’s third pre-season game ended in a 2-2 draw against Brentford.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the game at Old Trafford…
It’s good to be back at Old Trafford
Following a 2-1 away win over Derby and 4-2 defeat at QPR, this was United’s first pre-season friendly at Old Trafford. And it was against newly promoted Brentford, a team United last played competitively in 1975.
The last game at Old Trafford was the 1-1 draw against Fulham which felt like a friendly as Champions League qualification had already been assured.
So it has been a while. You have to go back to the 6-2 win over Roma to find a home game United had some stakes to. There were no stakes in this one, obviously, but this underlines what a long time it has been.
Seeing so many fans back in the stadium was a joy. It was back against City in March 2020 when Old Trafford was last so full.
Hearing that roar of excitement when the team surge forward is like nothing else. We’ve missed it, the fans there have missed it, and you can bet the players have missed it more than anybody.
There is one more home friendly to come, against Everton next week, when more first team stars will be back. Then we have the big one, at home to Leeds on the 14th as the Premier League season kicks off.
This one ended in a 2-2 draw, with two excellent goals scored by United. The crowd wanted to be entertained, and that was certainly the case.
Anthony Elanga has got to stay
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described Anthony Elanga as ‘electric’ after the game against QPR and said the youngster had a chance of sticking around in his first team squad instead of going out on loan.
The youngster was trusted to start this game, and needed a strong performance to keep up his momentum. He delivered.
Elanga scored after just 14 minutes, receiving a cross from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and striking on the volley first time into the corner.
In his last eight games for United, the under-23s, and Sweden under-21s, Elanga boasts seven goals.
The teenager is a player in form, and he could be very useful especially if Marcus Rashford undergoes an operation.
Full of confidence, Elanga continued making dangerous runs throughout and put Brentford under pressure with his pressing. He did exactly what Solskjaer wanted.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s attacking game is developing
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s defending was bizarrely called out earlier in the day by Talksport pundit Charlie Austin. Take no notice.
What was most impressive in this game was Wan-Bissaka’s attacking play, an area of his game he has been working hard on.
It was Wan-Bissaka’s cross which Elanga met to open the scoring. He was a useful outlet throughout the first half, playing one cleverly disguised pass to set Juan Mata free on the touchline.
United missed Luke Shaw on the left, but Wan-Bissaka ensured United still had a threat from the full-back positions. His attacking game is moving in the right direction.
Pre-season Pirlo is back
Andreas Pereira struck up a nickname Pre-season Pirlo in previous years for his outstanding friendly displays, which he could not replicate in competitive matches.
In the previous two matches, Pereira looked to have lost that. In this game he was back. After making an impressive tackle to dispossess Ivan Toney in the first half when through on goal, Pereira lit up Old Trafford in the second with a stunning volley.
Pereira’s volley crashed in off the underside of the crossbar and left Brentford’s goalkeeper with no chance.
Starting Pereira and leaving him on beyond half-time was striking as a little puzzling, when United have so many talented young players desperate for game time who may have a future at the club. Despite his volley, Pereira does not.
The opportunity may have been designed to put Pereira in the shop window. If that is the case, then it may have worked. The strike showed what he is capable of, and United will no doubt be hoping the phone rings tomorrow morning with interested clubs and agents looking to pay a fee for his services.
Mason Greenwood needs a goal
Mason Greenwood has had three games as a central striker to try and get his season off to a good start. It has not quite clicked for him.
Greenwood is putting the work in, and he is dropping deep, switching to the flanks to get into space, rather than staying static. He looks like his confidence could really benefit from a goal.
So far though, he does not have any goals to show for his efforts, and as a striker, that is ultimately where a player is judged.
Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial will both be back soon, and as yet, Greenwood has not done enough to hold down the spot. One goal can change that, so he will be desperate to impress in the two remaining pre-season matches.
Dalot fails to grab chance
This was Diogo Dalot’s first match of pre-season, so we can cut him some slack.
But it really was a terrible piece of defending which allowed Brentford to score their second equaliser.
Dalot played at left-back, which is not his preferred role, but he has plenty of experience in too, playing there at AC Milan last season.
He was a half-time substitute and won’t be pleased with his display. He will get another chance against Preston at the weekend to try and make amends, and will hope for a shot on the right.
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