Preview: Old Trafford debut for Erik ten Hag with Rayo Vallecano expected to test this long United side

Playing at Old Trafford will be good for the younger players who will see what it is like in a full stadium

Manchester United -v- Rayo Vallecano

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 31 July 2022, KO 16:00 BST

Manchester United welcome Spanish side Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford in the final pre-season match of the summer. In a week’s time United will face Brighton and Hove Albion in the opening Premier League match of the season at the Theatre of Dreams. United played their penultimate pre-season match on Saturday, losing 1-0 to Atletico Madrid.

Erik ten Hag has stated that the players that started against Atletico will sit out of Sunday’s match which means David De Gea, Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Tyrell Malacia, Fred, Scott McTominay, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Elanga and Anthony Martial will be unavailable.

The Dutchman also stated that players who came on as substitutes in that match could start or make an appearance in Sunday’s match. There will be other players in the squad, some who travelled to Thailand and Australia plus some younger players. Cristiano Ronaldo is also expected to be part of the squad and play at Old Trafford.

Whether this is a U-Turn by the Portuguese forward or a return to life at United will remain to be seen. This should be a good match at Old Trafford though, one for the fans to get them ready for a week’s time when the results start to mean everything whilst pre-season is all about fitness and getting things ready for the new season.

Manchester United Pre-Season Squad

Goalkeepers: Tom Heaton, Matej Kovar

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Ethan Laird

Midfielders: Christian Eriksen, Amad Diallo, Donny van de Beek, James Garner, Hannibal Mejbri, Shola Shoretire, Charlie Savage, Zidane Iqbal, Isak Hansen-Aaroen

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Tahith Chong, Alejandro Garnacho, Charlie McNeill

Rayo Vallecano Pre-Season Squad

Goalkeepers: Diego López, Stole Dimitrievski

Defenders: Mario Hernández, Alejandro Catena, Iván Balliu, Fran García

Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Randy Nteka, Salvi, Unai López, Álvaro García, Pathé Ciss, José Ángel Pozo, Óscar Valentín, Diego Méndez

Forwards: Radamel Falcao, Isi Palazón, Óscar Trejo, Andrés Martín, Sergio Moreno, Lass Bangoura

Manchester United Manager: Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag is at the fifth club of his management career having previously managed the Go Ahead Eagles, Bayern Munich II, Utrecht and Ajax before United. He started management in 2012 at Go Ahead Eagles managing 39 matches; winning 18, drawing 11 and losing 12 – winning 46.2%.

He was at Bayern Munich II from 2013 until 2015 where he managed 72 matches; winning 48, drawing 10 and losing 14 – winning 66.7%. He managed Utrecht from 2015 until 2017 where he managed 111 matches; winning 56, drawing 26 and losing 29 – winning 50.5%.

Moving to Ajax in 2017 until 2022, Ten Hag managed 215 matches; winning 158, drawing 28 and losing 29 – winning 73.5%. In total, Ten Hag has managed 437 matches; winning 280, drawing 75 and losing 82 – winning 64.1%. In theory, Ten Hag’s arrival at United is similar to Klopp’s at Liverpool.

During his management career, Ten Hag has won seven trophies – including one Regionalliga Bayern, three Eredivisie titles, two KNVB Cups and one Johan Cruyff Shield. It is hoped that he could resurrect United during his time at the club but he has a lot of work ahead of him to do that.

Rayo Vallecano Manager: Andoni Iraola Sagarna

Andoni Iraola Sagarna in at his third club of his management career, having previously managed AEK Larnaca, Mirandés and now Rayo Vallecano. His career in management started back in 2018 at Larnaca where he managed 29 matches; winning 12, drawing nine and losing eight – winning 41%. He finished in Larcana in January 2019.

After six months out of management, Iraola got the job at Mirandés starting in July 2019. He managed 49 matches; winning 18, drawing 17 and losing 14 – winning 37%, which was worse than at Larnaca. The former Athletic Bilbao endured a tough time and it resulted in him leaving the club in July 2020.

Just a matter of weeks later, Iraola took the job at Vallecano where he has so far managed 95 matches; winning 40, drawing 21 and losing 34 – winning 42%. It seems that his results are better than his first two management positions, but by one percent based on his job at Larnaca but La Liga is a much better league than the Cyta Championship.

Iraola won the Cypriot Super Cup back in 2018 during his time at AEK Larnaca beating APOEL 4-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. It was his first trophy as a manager and his first trophy as a player despite being a runner-up three times in the Copa del Rey, once in the Supercopa de España and once in the UEFA Europa League.

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1


Laird, Bailly, Martinez, Shaw;

Garner, Savage;

Amad, Eriksen, Garnacho;


Predicted Rayo Vallecano Starting XI – 4-2-3-1


Balliu, Hernández, Catena, García;

Valentín, López;

Palazón, Pozo, García;


Manchester United Pre-Season Statistics

Goals: 3 – Anthony Martial, Jadon Sancho, 2 – Own Goal, Marcus Rashford, 1 – Fred, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri

Assists: 1 – Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Amad Diallo, Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

Match Prediction

United will be seeking to put together a strong side to face their Spanish opposition but also allow the occasion to see some promising youth at the Theatre of Dreams, as would be the case in a pre-season friendly at Old Trafford. Cristiano Ronaldo should return for this match but playing later in the match based on his late return to training.

I would expect to see both Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen in this match even though the latter made his debut on Saturday, playing for about 20 minutes or so meaning that he should have about 45 minutes in him, which would be beneficial ahead of the Premier League opener at Old Trafford next Sunday.

I would presume that Martinez could play either 60 or 90 minutes in this match being that he has been training with Ajax for a number of weeks before his transfer and presumably keeping fit at home whilst waiting for his work permit to come through. It would be good to see what he can offer United.

The likes of James Garner and Charlie Savage playing in this match would be good as both have something to give the club in the not too distant future with Garner seemingly getting his chance in the first team this season, unless it is decided that a season on loan would be more beneficial for him. I think United should win this match, but I guess we will see.

Manchester United 2-1 Rayo Vallecano

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.