Manchester United showed great potential in their first pre-season match of the tour against Liverpool. The result is one thing but the performance in the first half and latter stages of the second half made for pleasant viewing.
Even though it was only a pre-season game, I enjoyed it because it was clear from the start that the players knew what they had to do on the pitch. Erik ten Hag has only had three weeks to train with these players and the initial signs are encouraging.
The Dutchman started his United reign with an impressive friendly victory on Tuesday thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho, Fred, Anthony Martial and Facundo Pellistri. United were much improved from their performances of last season and long may that continue.
Here are three observations I took from the 4-0 win over Liverpool. For more updates from the pre-season, subscribe to our Manchester United newsletter.
David de Gea is learning
There has been a lot of talk about how David de Gea would adjust his game under Erik ten Hag, a manager who demands his goalkeeper to come off his line and act as the 12th outfield player. He showed against Liverpool that he is more than willing to come off his line (we recorded at least three separate occasions) and he did it to great effect before sustaining an injury in the second half. The Spaniard was replaced by Tom Heaton but I feel better about his place in the team after today’s clean sheet. What would Luis Enrique say?
Ten Hag is giving his centre-backs freedom to bomb forward. I know, it may sound crazy, but you could see it work best for United’s fourth goal when Eric Bailly carried the ball into Liverpool’s half before going on a wild room into the opponent’s half. You could see Victor Lindelof step into their zone on a number of occasions in the first half, too. It’s risky but exciting and today it worked.
This group of players has potential
Try forget about last season. Complete clear it from your memory and our previous finish in the Premier League was second place. Ten Hag needs these players to understand this is a fresh start and now is the time to do something special in their careers, which I think was pretty evident against Liverpool. We need to see more consistency this season but at least the players are giving the manager something to work with and maybe that is because they like how he wants to approach games in the future. The team pressed high against Liverpool and created a lot of chances in a proactive manner.