Manchester United U23’s began their season in 2-0 defeat against Leicester City. It was a frustrating night for the youngsters as things didn’t go as planned.
They ended last season’s competition on a high as the league was cancelled due to COVID-19, where they saw themselves promoted due to the points per game policy that was followed to decide the winners of the Premier League 2 division 2.
Considering the fantastic season they had, the hopes were to begin the season in a positive fashion but given the absences, United were vulnerable from the start. The pre-season can be as well considered a successful one with the Reserves playing against stronger teams physically, but also testing their mentality ahead of a very important season.
Manchester United started the game with this XI: Mastny; Ercolani, Fish, Bernard, Svidersky; Garner (C), Galbraith; Stanley, Hannibal, Elanga; Helm. An interesting take from the lin-eup was the presence of James Garner, who is reportedly set to leave on loan for the season. On the other hand, Arnau Puigmal, Mengi, Bejger and Haygarth were absent.
As expected, Manchester United were in for a challenge in tonight’s game as in a very strange line-up especially at the back with Svidersky and Ercolani playing in unfamiliar positions. Despite this, both players were at the required standards.
Leicester were early in charge of the game exploring United’s middle causing several problems for the defensive partnership of Fish and Bernard. Mastny seemed beaten twice, with the post doing the work for United. With 30 minutes gone, again United seemed to not be getting in the ball hurting their chances of moving forward as Galbraith and Garner weren’t able to make hold of the ball. Positives from the first half were Ercolani’s runs in the right with the defender enjoying himself and clearly showing the rest how it’s done.
With Helm playing as a number nine, clearly not suitable for him, those passes didn’t have an end product which was frustrating. Despite the not so good start, United slowly began to win momentum and the flow in the left was working as Elanga and Svidersky combined well to have two clear chances to take United upfront. This while Leicester should have had their goal-scorer sent off after a horrific challenge on Stanley.
The second-half started again with Leicester exploring United’s defence all over. A problematic half was again expecting United as no clear gameplay was in United’s head, but the players were holding on very well. Leicester’s effort was denied as Mastny cleared the ball but it didn’t take long and Leicester took the lead with Reghba.
In the following minutes, United were more on the ball and trying to find an equalizer with Wood bringing Shoretire to make his Reserves’ debut in Stanley’s place. Major incident followed as Mejbri was brought down two times and another Leicester player had to be sent off, but only a yellow card was shown to United’s frustration. Definitely a night to forget as minutes Clark, the player who brought Hannibal down scored from outside the box, find Mastny unprepared and Leicester doubled their lead.
A frustrating game for the start of the season as the players were clearly not 100 per cent and the officiating was terrible, especially in the second-half, as Leicester had two potential red cards not given. On the other hand, Wood experimented a bit with the lineup, however the lack of a striker was clearly the problem. Now it remains to be seen how the youngsters will react in the following games, but a reaction is needed.