PERTH, Australia – Manchester UnitedThe team’s players and staff landed back at Manchester Airport on Sunday after nearly three weeks away in Thailand and Australia for the start of the final run until kick-off. Premier League Season.
Erik ten Hag has two weeks to make any final decisions before choosing his team to compete Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford on 7 August. Those two weeks included two more friendlies, against Atlético Madrid and Rayo Vallecanobut much of the work was done in Bangkok, Melbourne and Perth.
The Dutch have run the rule more than 30 players, while the new signings Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen set to join the group this week. The tour has been fruitful for some members of the team, but others will return to Manchester with doubts about their role ahead of the new campaign.
Here’s a look at the winners and losers from the trip and what Ten Hag’s new team might look like.
Martial has started this summer uncertain about his future but after three weeks in Thailand and Australia, the Frenchman has made it clear to start against Brighton in two weeks. He benefits from Cristiano Ronaldowas absent and started all four games as a central striker in Ten Hag’s system, scoring three goals in the net. Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace. The coaching staff were also impressed with how he took in information, such as when to hit and his running direction. Martial has made such an impact Ten Hag has now ruled out letting him leave ahead of timeno matter what happens to Ronaldo.
After a difficult first season at Old Trafford, Sancho used the tour to cement his place in the iconic Ten Hag squad. Playing to the right of the forward line, he scored three goals, including a sports volley in the final match against Aston Villa. More importantly, his growing understanding of Martial and Marcus Rashford was evident with a team goal against Palace, which cut the defense into pieces with quick passes and smart moves. Ten Hag still has time to decide who will open the scoring against Brighton but, due to a late injury, Sancho is still guaranteed to be in the team.
Dalot has been at Old Trafford since 2018 but, speaking after the last game against Villa, he said he feels like a United player now. It’s not hard to see why. A year after arriving from Porto, he has seen the club splash out £50m for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and ended up spending time on a loan at AC Milan. He still hasn’t had a long stint in the team, but that looks set to change this season. Ten Hag brought Tyrell Malacia to add to the competition at left-back but on the right, it was a straight fight between Dalot and Wan-Bissaka and so far, only one winner. The 23-year-old still has work to do in defence, but he has impressed on the tour. A cross with his left foot to let Martial into the Palace net was the highlight.
Varane insisted during the trip that he does not regret his decision to leave Real Madrid for United 12 months ago but when he flies back to Manchester from Perth on Saturday night he will realize he faces a battle to get into Ten Hag’s team. The United boss spent almost £50m on Martinez and he told ESPN while on tour that he is supporting Harry Maguire In order to play regularly, there is little doubt that Varane will start the season on the bench. The France international struggled with injuries – what happened last season also didn’t help when it came to missing precious minutes. Varane has won the Champions League and World Cup four times and will eventually return to replace Maguire but at least now he faces a tough task.
There have long been question marks over whether Wan-Bissaka is good enough to play for United, and judging by the tour, Ten Hag has made a decision. The 24-year-old played just 92 minutes in four games and when Ten Hag made 10 changes against Melbourne Victory he was left on the bench and the youngster Ethan Laird received a nod instead. Wan-Bissaka defends better than Dalot but Ten Hag wants his team to be proactive and aggressive and in that sense Dalot is a much better bet. Wan-Bissaka hired a professional coach over the summer to help him get through and through but he still doesn’t deliver enough in the future to secure a spot on the team.
With two weeks to go before the new season begins, Alex Telles will surely know that his time at the club is coming to an end. He competed with Luke Shaw at left-back and this summer the Brazilian has seen Malacia arrive from Feyenoord. Shaw and Malacia shared duties at left-back during the tour, leaving Telles to fill the midfield and midfield positions. In the end, he really seems to be making numbers. Telles still has two years left on his contract, plus an option of another season, so he is entitled to stay where he is now, but there are not many prospects for him to play next season. – or even second choice after Shaw.