Manchester United began their pre-season tour of America in emphatic fashion, dispatching LA Galaxy with impressive ease.
Here are five things we learned from the United victory over LA Galaxy.
Two instinctive finishes within the opening quarter set the Red Devils on their way. Both of Rashford’s goals were composed and clinical, reminding United fans of Rashford’s ruthless touch in front of goal – last campaign, the young Englishman found it hard to replicate the devastating finishes of his break-through year at Old Trafford under Louis van Gaal.
There is a feeling that unlike the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic last year, the signing of Romelu Lukaku does not present an immediate threat to Rashford’s progression. If this was Rashford staking his claim for a starting spot, Jose Mourinho will have noticed. Rashford was sacrificed for Ibrahimovic last season, but if Mourinho is aiming for a powerful forward line, he might well consider pairing Rashford and Lukaku together next season.
Four of United’s five goals were the product of pressing and quick turnovers, leaving the Galaxy defence on their heels and catching them complacent. This is a facet of the ‘counter-attacking’ ideology one often associates with a Jose Mourinho team and this tactic was used by Mourinho at times last season; most notably against Chelsea, both in United’s 2-0 home win and their 1-0 F.A. Cup defeat.
If Jose Mourinho ensures this pressing style is effectively translated into next season’s Premier League, then the Red Devils will have another ‘plan’ or option to face up to opponents with.
Martial leaves his mark
Anthony Martial failed to impress last season, despite a potent first year under van Gaal. There is little doubt surrounding his quality, but questions remain regarding his attitude. It appears – and this is a tentative conclusion – that Martial is beginning to ‘knuckle-down’ as it were and concentrate on the weaknesses of his game.
Such work ethic was documented towards the end of the season, but Martial was unlikely to get much of a look-in during the business end of the season, where Mourinho would dare risk fielding a player he cannot fully trust. A full pre-season might change that, however, and Martial’s performance against Galaxy would have certainly helped.
Fosu-Mensah to have a break-through season?
Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s star shone brightest of the United young guns in L.A. The Dutchman latched onto a mind-boggling pass from Paul Pogba, strode into the penalty area and calmly found Martial, who duly fired home.
Fosu-Mensah is a clear talent and his utility might mean he gets more chances next season. With Mourinho experimenting with various formations and the Portuguese’ tendency to alter tactics relative to the match, the academy product should be given opportunities next season as his ability to play right-back, centre-back and central-defensive-midfield will mean he is available for a number of positions.
RedRom makes understated debut
I am extremely skeptical regarding Romelu Lukaku’s attitude. Regardless, for Manchester United, the deal makes sense. The crazy happened afterwards. “He didn’t score goals, but he played better than the ones who did score goals.”
“A good thing for me today is he’s a team player and was not worried about himself. He was worried about the improvement of the team.”
Mourinho had this to say of Lukaku in the post-match press conference, reflecting the sentiments ushered by Lukaku upon joining United.
He was eager to mention his dedication to the team during interviews and his performance certainly backed up such claims. Make no mistake, Lukaku will score goals, but his ability to work within a team and enhance those around him is also a hugely beneficial factor.