As a second-string team beat Brentford in the unusual July rain, Bruno Fernandes watched from the stands at Old Trafford, but from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s strongest XI you’d say eight players are yet to make it. return to Carrington and only Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Mason Greenwood played in preseason.
Neither David de Gea nor Dean Henderson have played yet, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Fred, Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho and Edinson Cavani are not back in pre-season training, while Raphael Varane is yet to be travel to Manchester to finalize his move. of Real Madrid.
Anthony Elanga and Andreas Pereira have put their names in the spotlight against the Bees, but neither are due to face Leeds United on August 14. There could be some surprise starters on the opening day of the season, however, due to the quirky nature of the preseason. for so many players and facing Marcelo Bielsa’s side is not something you would recommend to anyone still working out in fitness.
Solskjaer will have to balance quality and fitness levels for this unique test, but the more players at full throttle the better.
Diogo Dalot’s 45-minute run against Brentford could therefore be good news for him, although he will regret his failure to intercept a routine pass down the line that led Bryan Mbeumo to equalize.
The 22-year-old looked to be in surplus not so long ago, but his form for AC Milan has earned him a call-up for the European Championship and he has played for Portugal in the tournament. He needs to find those performance levels for United now, rather than the mistake that cost him last night. It was these mistakes that led him to be dismissed by Solskjaer at the end of the 2019/20 season.
The fact that he came for Brandon Williams was a reminder of his versatility – he split his time between right-back and left-back for Milan last season – and fitness issues could give him an unexpected chance. at the start of the season.
Alex Telles is already out until September, while Shaw played against broken ribs in Euro 2020. Dalot will likely start left-back against Preston on Saturday and he will know that a good performance will put him firmly on the table. radar to appear in the first few weeks. of the season. His immediate future at United could hinge on how he gets along against the Championship side.
Another player likely to start at Deepdale is Donny van de Beek. He entered the last 15 minutes last night and is ahead of Fernandes and Pogba in the preseason. The first will probably appear on Saturday but Pogba’s absence remains a bit surprising, as his future is once again the subject of tortured speeches.
Solskjaer stuck with the 4-2-3-1 again against Brentford, but at some point in the preseason you’d expect to see the 4-3-3 he’s playing this season. Even though this Leeds game is too early for that, Van de Beek and Nemanja Matic are still the only senior midfielders to have played so far this summer.
Scott McTominay’s absence from QPR and Brentford suggests he carries some sort of injury and while Fernandes will likely play on Saturday, Pogba and Fred are unlikely to come out until the final preseason friendly of the summer against Everton.
With such a key midfielder against Leeds Solskjaer, it will take dynamism and that could make Van de Beek’s game. The Netherlands international missed the Euro with a groin injury but returned to Carrington fit and fresh and could still make an impact early in the season.
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