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Man Utd preseason review: 3 positives and negatives from Solskjaer's first

Prior to the blockbuster 2019/20 Premier League Season, we here at TribalFootball look at the contenders and their pre-season campaigns, analysing the key positives and negatives taken from the lead up to the season.

Pre-Season Fixtures:

Countries Visited - Australia, Singapore, China, Norway and Wales

Australia Tour -

Saturday, 13 July: vs Perth Glory 2-0 (Rashford 60', Garner 85') W

Wednesday, 17 June: vs Leeds 4-0 (Greenwood 7', Rashford 27', Jones 51', Martial 69') W

International Champions Cup-

Saturday, 20 July: vs Inter Milan 1-0 (Greenwood 76') W

Thursday, 25 July: vs Tottenham 2-1 (Martial 21', Gomes 80') W

Saturday, 3 August: vs AC Milan 2-2 [5-4 on Penalties] (Rashford 14', Lingard 72') W

Norway Friendly -

Tuesday, 30th July: vs Kristiansund BK 1-0 (Mata 90+2) W

Transfer Ins:

Daniel James (LW) from Swansea City - €87 Million

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB) from Crystal Palace - €55 Million

Harry Maguire (CB) from Leicester City - €17 Million


1. United Winning Mentality

Optimism. It's not a word generally associated with Manchester United fans, however this impressive pre-season campaign has seen the mood lifted around Old Trafford, a stark contrast to the dire situation they found themselves in during the lead up to the 18/19 season.

Just 12 months ago, the club was in turmoil as a list of players were missing from the pre-season camp with former manager Jose Mourinho describing the situation as "very bad".

Now in the lead up to the 19/20 season, the atmosphere is quite the opposite. 6 wins from 6 games against some formidable opponents, scoring 12 goals with a dynamic style of football, it's certainly a club to be excited about.

2. Accomplished Academy

The Manchester United Academy is certainly notorious for its ability to breed top footballers, specifically highlighted by the club's number 1 ranking for minutes played by academy products in the 18/19 EPL season.

Again in this pre-season campaign it was the talented youth that dominated the summer headlines. The usual suspects at United of Rashford and Lingard lead the line in the absence of Romelu Lukaku, scoring 4 goals between them.

However it was the likes of Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, Axel Tuanzebe and James Garner who stole the attention of the fans. Greenwood, United's Jimmy Murphy Young Player Award winner after a scintillating season of 30 goals in 29 games for the youth side, continued his rapid rise into the first-team. The 17-year-old scored two goals and heavily featured in every match.

Solskjaer spoke of his pre-season stating, "he's grown in confidence, he's grown in stature and, as I said before, when you've got players who perform it's difficult to keep them out...He reminds me a little bit about the Giggsy story, you can't really send him on loan and for me he's ready to be in this squad."

Solskaer has spoken of the possibility of Greenwood featuring in the opening match against Chelsea and it's looking as if that may become a reality.

Gomes and Garner also managed to bag their maiden United first-team goals boosting their confidence heading into the season.

This crop of young stars who played a significant role in the red devils pre-season will surely give United fans plenty of optimism heading into the 19/20 season.

3. Signings Settled

When Manchester United sign big players for big money transfer fees, the microscope shines firmly upon them and the pressure is turned up to full. It has been the making of some and the downfall of others.

However, United fans would be delighted by the early indications of their two big money signings who have both looked strong in pre-season. Talented young winger Daniel James and right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka have excelled, playing a significant role (both played every game) even in such early stages.

Wan-Bissaka proved strong defensively but also offensively, registering an assist against Leeds in Australia.

James was the star of the show in a few of United's performances, with his pace and dribbling tormenting defences. He also managed to score the winning penalty against AC Milan.

It's fair to say both have hit the ground running, giving fans plenty to be excited about. The red devils would hope the same vein of form will fall favourably upon world-record-signing defender Harry Maguire.

4. Pogba Professionalism

A small word must be said about the French Talisman Paul Pogba, who in a transfer window filled with speculation has managed to hold his head high despite the outside noise.

In the wake of the Romelu Lukaku transfer who has been missing from the squad, Pogba must be commended for his professionalism, playing 5 matches in the pre-season and leading from the front.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer commented, "Paul has been absolutely top in the group".


1. The Romelu Lukaku Saga

Much has been written about the Belgium striker who has caused an unfortunate storm at Old Trafford over the summer. Linked with a big money signing to Inter Milan or Juventus and plagued with Injuries, Lukaku has played no role in the club's preseason campaign.

Having been adamant that he will be sold, Lukaku created further tensions by posting the club's internal speed tests (which have since been taken down) as well as spending more time than allotted in Belgium while training.

His attitude has dampened what has been a strong pre-season for the club, and his absence leaves a very young forward line to take the club forward. Of course it is an exciting youthful frontline, but one without a big target-man.

2. Bailly's Bad injury luck

With Harry Maguire surely headlining United's defence for the 19/20 season, competition for spots at Centre-Back will be unbelievably intense. Unfortunately for Eric Bailly, he will have his work cut out for him to push his case for selection as the Ivorian defender was stretched off in the field against Tottenham.

The knee injury he sustained has proven to be serious and will see him sit on the sidelines for at least 4-5 months. A disappointing result for the talented defender.

3. Fringe Players Overlooked

Of course the inclusion of new players means that some players will miss out. Matteo Darmian has felt the presence of Wan-Bissaka and Alexis Sanchez the same with the inclusion of Daniel James. Neither have featured at all in the club's pre-season which doesn't spell good news for either player.

Furthermore with the explosion of youth into the first-team, full-backs Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Cameron-Borthwick Jackson would also be disappointed to not find any action throughout the pre-season.

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Eli Rubenstein Sturgess

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