What We Learned: Manchester United run riot in LA

First things first, Manchester United football is back ladies and gents. Secondly, it is officially #RashfordTime – but we’ll get to that in a bit. The Red Devils saw off LA Galaxy in fine form with a 5-2 result, after a particularly dominant first half performance. The interesting part comes when you look at the fact that the starting XI, with the exception of David De Gea, Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera, was comprised of players seemingly with the most to prove going into the new season. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the night in Los Angeles:

Is that a three-man defence I see?

Yes, yes it is – and it doesn’t look too shabby. While, in all honesty, I have high doubts that a three-man defence will be implemented more so than on a pre-season experimental basis. But, with that said, it was quite successful this time around. With little to no threatening chances by the Galaxy, United’s possession was steadfast and worry-free for the most part. Daley Blind was the only player on the pitch that didn’t have a comfortable swagger about him

It’s Marcus RashfordTime

The lads came out of the gate like a gunshot. Albeit due to a defensive error, Jesse Lingard managed to snap up the ball on the opposing half before laying in a ball to Marcus Rashford, who would see the ball smoothly into the back of the net with his first touch of the ball. Within two minutes, the Red Devils took the lead. Just 17 minutes later, a similar defensive error would find the ball at the feet of Juan Mata, who supplied a clinical pass to Marcus Rashford who would once again place the ball into the net with a single touch of the ball. With multiple chances to bag his first half hat-trick, an incredible display of speed and composure on and off the ball, it was very clear to see that Rashford is ready to step up out of the “young starlet” light and rise to the opportunity for word class potential.

Jesse Lingard makes a case

Jesse Lingard looked absolutely electric in his time on the pitch. Clearly, this was evident right off the blocks with an early moment of thievery before a quick assist. But, the far more impressive testament to his speed and determination can be seen in the build-up to the third goal. After a pass from Ander Herrera that looked to have a bit too much on it, in flies Lingard to lay in a sublime ball right on the cusp of the byline to Marouane Fellaini to slot home.

Put Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the middle

With every match, it becomes increasingly apparent how much more of a creator Henrikh Mkhitaryan becomes when he has the freedom to roam in a more central position. His speed was on display as he coasted past one after the other, with one moment in particular that caused Paddy Crerand to say what we were all thinking, ‘There he goes.’ After bagging the team’s fourth goal with a textbook finish straight down the middle, it would be a crime to confine him to the flanks.

Paul Pogba wants to share the love

Paul Pogba had a clear chance at goal early into the second half but instead laid the ball off to Romelu Lukaku – most likely as a partially gifted debut goal. Though the ball would be kept out by a top notch save, it’s the thought that counts. Pogba dictated the play from box to box throughout the second half. Essentially, he was doing what he always does, but you can see a heightened comfortability in his game. Maybe this is a partial side-effect of the blossoming friendships that seem to abound within the United camp these days.

Lineup questions on the horizon

Although everyone has to earn their spot on the pitch as much as every other man on the training ground, it’d be a safe bet to say that Romelu Lukaku should be due to receive a substantial amount of playing time up front. However, in the second half, we saw Anthony Martial in a far more central position, with the ball at his feet in the box more often than trying to deliver crosses from the left flank. Maybe this was per the instruction of José Mourinho, or if Martial took it upon himself to drift inward, regardless he was lethal. With the exceptional performances of both Martial, Rashford and Lingard, it’s clear to see how some lineup selection difficulties may also be on the horizon.

It’s unfortunate that the team was unable to keep the clean sheet, but that just allows for more teaching moments in the film room. If this match is a glimpse at what the rest of this year’s preseason may shape up to be, then we are all in for some good times ahead. The chemistry on the pitch is without question, the creativity was there, the finishing was clinical, an all-around great night in Los Angeles for the Red Devils and the fans alike.

Written by Devin Healy


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