Manchester United’s second pre-season match was not as easygoing as the first. United conceded four goals against a well-drilled QPR side at Loftus Road in a 4-2 defeat.
There were a few bright spots and performances of note. But the scoreline told it’s own story.
After the game Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave blunt assessment, especially in reference to the senior players.
Solskjaer said: “Good learning for some of the young ones. It’s a check where we are, and a test where we are for the older and more experienced ones as well. Towards the end, I enjoyed the football the kids played.”
The United boss was evidently disappointed, and understandably so.
Who needs to step it up?
One senior player who can be excused is Jesse Lingard. He scored after just three minutes and played well. He dropped deep into midfield too to try and create.
One player who looked out of his depth was goalkeeper Lee Grant. It was no coincidence that United conceded three goals in quick succession after he came on. It is probably just as well he won’t have any part to play in the season proper.
Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic also had little to shout about. But it was Andreas Pereira who looked most out of place.
It was odd that Pereira was given minutes in the first place. Pereira has no future at Manchester United and there seemed to be no logic in giving him 60 minutes ahead of a young player who could have a bigger future.
This game served to underline that Pereira should not be part of United’s plans. Expect him to play a much reduced role against Brentford in midweek.
Both Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams could be considered ‘more experienced’ by comparison to some of the younger players. Both displayed some defensive flaws in their games which will have given Solskjaer cause for concern.
Dan James was lacking during his 45 minutes on the pitch, making poor decisions in the final third when he did get into space. But this was his first pre-season game while the other players were on their second, so there can be a bit more leniency applied there.
Ultimately pre-season results count for nothing, altough pre-season performances can be revealing. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had more reasons for concern from his senior players than reason to be positive.
As good as the likes of Anthony Elanga, Shola Shoretire and Hannibal were, excitement will be tempered by the bench players in front of them struggling.
It has been clear during Solskjaer’s tenure, especially last season, that he does not trust his second string of players. This is shown up in both his team selection and his substitutions, or lack of.
United’s stand-ins missed an opportunity on Saturday to give him more reason to trust them. As Solskjaer notes, this may have simply been a reminder of the level they are at.
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