3 takeaways from Manchester United’s opening friendly win 

By on July 15, 2022 - 111 views

The Erik ten Hag tenure couldn’t have gone any better for Manchester United as the Red Devils earned a 4-0 victory over Liverpool in Bangkok, Thailand. Granted, it was only one game, it was friendly, and both sides used a lot of players that won’t see much time during the regular season. But for a club that hasn’t experienced the success recently as they are used to, it was a massive step in the right direction. 

When you are wanting updates on NFL Matchups, you usually have a go-to spot online. Many places give you the NFL lines, but there is also so much more out there to look up, such as information on Manchester United.

Once one of Europe’s most dominating and feared clubs, United is now an also-ran in its league. The Red Devils have not won any trophies since the 2016-17 campaign, and it has almost been a decade since their last English Premier League title. They are coming off the worst Premier season in their history, finishing with 56 points and just 16 wins – both franchise lows in the 31 years of the Premier  League’s existence. 

While United’s defense got the bulk of the criticism last year, and rightfully so as the 57 goals given up during the Premier League season were a club record, the offense wasn’t great. Over 48 games, United recorded ten clean sheets and allowed three or more goals seven times while they were shutout 11 times though they tallied at least three goals on 11 occasions. Although the transfer window is far from closed, the main takeaway thus far is that the Red Devils have gotten younger and improved defensively.

Ten Hag became United’s 25th manager since 1892 after agreeing to a three-year contract in May. Ten Hag comes to Old Trafford from Ajax, whom he led to a 73.5% overall winning percentage as well as league crowns and  Champions League appearances in each of his last four years as boss. 

Manchester United had the advantage over Liverpool going into the game as they had been training longer than the Reds and the Red Devils used a more veteran lineup with fewer changes. Jurgen Klopp used 32 total players in the game while ten Hag subbed 10 players after halftime. The following are three takeaways from the United opening exhibition win. 

Tactical Upgrades

The first takeaway from the friendly is the tactical upgrades that ten Hag instituted. While United used various formations last season, ten Hag used a 4-2-3-1on Tuesday.  This formation allows full-backs more freedom in making runs. 

Ten Hag has been preaching for his full-backs to make underlapping runs. This strategy proved fruitful against Liverpool, with Diago Dalot and Luke Shaw putting pressure on the Reds’ defense, resulting in a few good scoring chances. 

Similarly, ten Hag has been insisting that United constantly form passing triangles and that philosophy paid immediate dividends as Shaw, Jadon Sancho, and Bruno Fernandes executed that philosophy perfectly in the build-up that led to Sancho’s goal at the 12-minute mark. 

Getting Off to a Fast Start and Finishing 

Last year, United didn’t get off too many fast starts and only recorded a 30% goal rate per shot on target. The Red Devils showed vast improvement in both areas in the Friendly. Sancho got things going before a quarter-way into the match, taking advantage of Liverpool’s 19-year-old Isaac Mabaya’s failure to clear the ball and firing home with his right foot from the left-hand side. Fred and Anthony Martial each had excellent finishes for goal before the 35-minute mark. All of United’s scores came on just five on-target shots. 

David de Gea Looked Fantastic In Goal

David de Gea is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career in 2021-22. However, the 31-year-old made a nice near-post save with his feet. De Gea also looked confident and very mobile when coming off the line.  He did come up lame in the second half as he appeared to tweak something, perhaps a calf injury, and left the game though the severity is unknown.

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James Crawford

Promoted to editor in 2016, James has met famous footballing faces from Robbie Savage to John Barnes. Very passionate football fan and writer and has a degree in journalism,

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