There’s an air of positivity around Manchester United (28/1 Premier League Outright) with new boss Erik ten Haag starting to implement his philosophy during pre-season.
After ending the 2021/22 Premier League campaign with back-to-back defeats and finishing in a disappointing sixth, United (6/4 Top Four Finish) turned to former Ajax boss Ten Hag to try and rebuild the club’s reputation.
Just a matter of weeks after taking his first training session, Ten Hag is already seeing some extremely positive performances during their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia.
The Red Devils sealed a 4-0 win over Liverpool in their first pre-season fixture in Bangkok with Jadon Sancho, Fred, Anthony Martial (66/1 Premier League Top Goalscorer) and Facundo Pellistri getting on the scoresheet.
After flying over to Australia, United ran out 4-1 winners over Melbourne Victory – Scott McTominay, Martial, Marcus Rashford (66/1 Premier League Top Goalscorer) and an own goal from Edmond Lupancu seeing them come out on top.
United’s third pre-season outing also ended in triumph on Tuesday as Martial, Rashford and Sancho notched in a 3-1 win against Crystal Palace at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It’s undoubtedly the type of momentum Ten Hag would have wanted heading towards their Premier League season-opener at home to Brighton on August 7 (Match Betting – Manchester United 8/15, Draw 3/1, Brighton 5/1).
Fans will clearly be pleased to see the likes of Martial, who spent last term on-loan at Sevilla, back in the squad and scoring regularly, while Rashford and Sancho are both looking sharp after disappointing during 2021/22.
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Bruno Fernandes (50/1 Premier League Top Goalscorer) is another to have earned huge amounts of praise for his work over the past couple of weeks, adapting almost immediately to the new style of play.
Ten Hag’s philosophy is very much in the traditional Dutch mould, possession-based football with a purpose and aggressive pressing without the ball.
Fernandes is clearly enjoying the new regime but admits there is still room for further improvement in their final three friendlies against Aston Villa, Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano.
“The three guys up front have been aggressive when they pressed, it’s been strong, it’s made the last line squeeze, the midfielders too and when we turn over the ball we’re closer to the goal. We have freedom, there’s lots of spaces in the middle and we’re better on the ball too,” Fernandes said.
“We feel good, the results help on that, playing good football a lot of things to improve yet but we’ll have time to do that and be ready for the first game of the season.”
Of course, winning pre-season games doesn’t guarantee everything will progress smoothly once the competitive action gets underway, although the United faithful can rightly start to feel excited as their club now finally appears to have an identity for the first time in a long while.
That was clear to see in the second goal scored against Palace as Rashford rounded off a fine team goal after latching on to a fine through ball from Donny van de Beek.
Performances on the pitch are currently helping to keep minds off a lack of business in the transfer market, having signed just Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen so far, although Lisandro Martinez is potentially on his way.
Both look like good additions but Ten Hag needs to further bolster his options to ensure they can be competitive at the top end of the Premier League.
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