3 Issues Man United Need To Address In Their Remaining Pre-Season Games

Manchester United ended their pre-season tour of the United States on a losing note following a 3-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Monday in Las Vegas.

The first 43 minutes were dominated by Manchester United, with Diogo Dalot scoring the opening goal with a fantastic finish from the edge of the box. However, a minute of complete madness saw Erik ten Hag’s men go into half-time 2-1 down after mistakes from Brandon Williams and Victor Lindelof. Donyell Malen scored a brace in the 43rd and 44th minutes.

The second half saw Man United equalise through Antony, however, another mistake, this time from Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the 71st minute gave Dortmund a chance to seal the victory through Youssoufa Moukoko. Ten Hag was hugely disappointed with the Red Devils’ performance in the final 30 minutes of the game, lamenting his side’s sloppiness and mistakes in and out of possession.

Man United will now travel back to England to complete their pre-season with a game against Lens on August 5 at Old Trafford, before travelling to Ireland to face Athletic Bilbao at the Aviva Stadium. With final chances to prepare his team for the season-opener against Wolves on August 14, here are three issues Ten Hag must look to solve in the upcoming friendlies.

#Iron out mistakes from the Man United defence

After keeping clean sheets in each of their opening three pre-season friendlies, Man United have conceded eight goals in their last three fixtures. They lost 2-0 to Real Madrid, 3-1 to Wrexham and 3-2 to Borussia Dortmund, which highlights the issues Ten Hag has in his defence.

Ten Hag’s side suffered defensive disasters against Dortmund on Monday, with the back four imploding just before half-time, conceding twice in as many minutes owing to mistakes from Brandon Williams and Victor Lindelof. The second half saw United make errors again at the back, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka culpable with a woeful pass that led to Dortmund’s third goal.

It provides painful flashbacks of some bad memories of the start of last season when the Red Devils made multiple errors in their opening defeats to Brighton and Brentford. Ten Hag cannot afford these types of mistakes again if his team are to start strongly in the upcoming campaign.

#Improve the team’s finishing skills

Signing a new striker was Ten Hag’s priority heading into the summer transfer window and it’s still not happened, although there have been reports since the weekend that United have agreed a £72m deal with Atalanta for the signing of Rasmus Hojlund.

United didn’t score enough goals last season—their 58 in the Premier League was the worst among the top eight teams. Marcus Rashford was the club’s leading goalscorer by a distance last season and without his frequency of goals, United’s season could have panned out differently.

Looking at how his team has continued last season’s theme of missing chances galore in front of goal throughout the pre-season tour so far, Ten Hag should understandably be disappointed. The Dutchman will know he can’t go into the new season watching his players fail to finish off chances, so Ten Hag will be desperate to see improvements in this aspect in the upcoming friendlies against Lens and Athletic Bilbao.

#Improve ball retention

Last term, one criticism of the Red Devils was their lack of control in certain games—where they would attempt to play more in the transitions. With Mason Mount and Andre Onana brought in, Ten Hag will want his team to be better in terms of ball retention.

In his short stay so far, Onana has given a glimpse of how United’s style will change with him in goal. Mount, who has been signed as an upgrade on Eriksen, will look to help Ten Hag’s side control games more in midfield and improve their productivity in the final third.

In the games against Arsenal, Real Madrid and Dortmund, Man United have shown their tendency to lose control and cede possession cheaply. While Ten Hag has recently stated that he wants his team to be the best transitional side in the world, his principles and signings suggest that he is also looking for the team to improve in terms of controlling football matches. And he will be desperate to see his United team do a lot better in possession when facing Lens and Bilbao in their next friendlies.

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