Manchester United played a friendly on Saturday against Aston Villa.

A much rotated side ended with a 1-0 defeat, but the result was not important – as our friendly loss to West Brom in June showed.

Here is a look at six things we learned from the run-out at Villa Park…

Take the big hitters out and United are short

Adding squad depth is so important, and United do have plenty of it. The jury is out on the quality.

Is Odion Ighalo the striker who will get enough goals if Anthony Martial is unavailable? Is Jesse Lingard ever going to be the player he was?

Dan James once again showed a lack of end product in the final third, and it re-emphasised that his game still needs a lot of refinement.

There were good moments, and United had a lot of possession in the final third. A cutting edge was just missing.

Luke Shaw is fully fit

It was great to see Luke Shaw back in action for the first time since June.

He played all 90 minutes at left-back and got forward a lot, renewing his link-up with Marcus Rashford.

Shaw should be a lock to start United’s opener and pick up where he left off.

Dean Henderson Signs a New Contract at Manchester United
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Dean Henderson looks ready

Dean Henderson started the game before being replaced by Lee Grant for the final 20 minutes.

He could not do much about the goal, but he looked comfortable throughout the match.


One of the big pluses was how good he looked with the ball at his feet when put under pressure, finding teammates with long passes forward.

While David de Gea may return for the season opener, Henderson has made the decision a little tougher.

Manchester United Training Session
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Youngsters on the fringes

The number of players unavailable provided an opportunity for youngsters Ethan Galbraith, Teden Mengi and Anthony Elanga to come off the bench and feature.

Galbraith almost scored, while Mengi looked very composed when he came on, up against senior players.

All three will be regulars for the under-23s this season, and this showed they are in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s thoughts for call-ups when the opportunity calls for it.

Manchester United New Signing Donny van de Beek
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Donny van de Beek will do well

Donny van de Beek was making his first appearance in a United shirt, after just two days training.

He looked very composed in possession, with a good passing range, taking up smart positions showing for the ball, and some fancy flicks.

He will do well at United, and when he links up with Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial he will really shine. Van de Beek showed a real willingness to get into the opposition penalty area, and will cause problems for defenders.

Manchester United v LASK - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: Second Leg
(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Fosu-Mensah’s adaptability

It was interesting to see how Timothy Fosu-Mensah was utilised during this game, after playing at full-back at the end of last season.

Fosu-Mensah started at centre-back, which was viewed as his best position originally when he came through the academy five years ago.

Later in the second half after Mengi came on, Fosu-Mensah was pushed forward into a defensive midfield role.

This highlighted that Solskjaer is still experimenting with the Dutchman, and wants to see what he has to offer ahead of the season, even just as an emergency option.

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