Manchester United completed another fixture in the U.S. preseason tour, defeating Real Madrid via penalties following a 1-1 draw during the course of 90 minutes. Here are three things we learned from the game played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Anthony Martial Deserves a Bigger Role Next Season
If we consider Manchester United did not show a lot in this game – perhaps considering both sides will meet again in two weeks for the UEFA Super Cup – then it is hard to single one player out. But if anyone took advantage of this friendly to convince the manager, that is Anthony Martial.
The French winger was an absolute nightmare for Real Madrid’s defensive line. He was the one behind Jesse Lingard’s goal thanks to an impressive run that left Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal helpless on defence. But aside from that, the French looked active and dangerous every time he ran through the left flank. His performance today proved Mourinho he can be a viable option for the Super Cup in two weeks. And who knows? Maybe he can remain as the starter throughout the first weeks of the campaign.
Andreas Pereira Might Benefit From Another Loan Spell
It is not a secret that Jose Mourinho is a big fan of Andreas Pereira. The Brazilian playmaker spent last season on loan at Granada, and the U.S. preseason tour was his chance to show the manager he belongs as a United player in the first team. Unfortunately, things have not worked out for him. And even though it’s still early, it seems he might follow the same career path than Adnan Januzaj, another talented midfielder who never settled at Old Trafford and was forced to leave for greener pastures.
Pereira started Sunday’s match against Real Madrid as the team’s primary playmaker. Even though he did a good job moving the ball around in midfield, he lacked a spark. He didn’t cooperate enough defensively, either. There is no question he is a talented player. But does he have what it takes to become a regular at Old Trafford? Maybe he would be better suited to go out on loan. He needs to adjust to the Premier League to thrive in a United shirt. Otherwise, he could risk himself to stall his development.
Huge Difference Between Starters and Subs
This is clearly a problem for United heading into the upcoming season, and it further shows that Mourinho needs a few more players if he wants to mount a serious title challenge both in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. Mourinho has a best XI in mind, but if some of the regulars are out, then it is quite hard to find suitable replacements.
For instance, if Paul Pogba is out, then there is no other playmaker who can mask his absence. Same with Romelu Lukaku, as Rashford could end up better suited to play on the wing. And what about David De Gea? Sergio Romero is a decent backup, but the Spaniard is the better option all around. The defence has the same problem, because if Victor Lindelöf and/or Eric Bailly are out, the downgrade is huge. Marcos Rojo is injured, and the likes of Daley Blind and Chris Smalling are a few steps behind the aforementioned players.