Erik ten Hag enjoyed a dream start to life at Manchester United after his side comfortably beat Liverpool in their first pre-season friendly of the summer.
The 52-year-old named a strong side to face Jurgen Klopp’s side and was vindicated after goals from Jadon Sancho, Fred, Anthony Martial and Facundo Pellistri ensured victory on the opening day.
Ten Hag shuffled his pack for the second half by making ten changes, with only David de Gea keeping his place. His original selection may, however, already have hinted at what his plans are for the upcoming season. We take a look at some of the things we learned below.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s future is in doubt
Harry Maguire played no part in the game due to a small injury and there were no real surprises when Ten Hag named a back-four of Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw – the closest he gets to first-choice with injuries taken into consideration.
Wan-Bissaka lost his place under Ralf Rangnick and that seems to have been extended under Ten Hag. Earlier this summer, it was claimed that Crystal Palace held an interest in signing Wan-Bissaka.
Midfield justifies Frenkie de Jong pursuit
Over the years, United supporters have grown increasingly frustrated at Scott McTominay and Fred’s inability to recycle the ball and although it was just a friendly, Ten Hag’s first outing has justified his pursuit of De Jong, his old partner in crime.
Zidane Iqbal, a second-half substitute, showcased what a De Jong-esque figure would add to the midfield and at present, there is no senior player press resistant enough to operate in the deepest role.
De Jong is a specialist in that area and despite the protracted talks with Barcelona, Ten Hag may well feel that in the end, it will be worth it.
Sancho and Rashford’s positioning
United are light in wide areas but in a full-strength side, Rashford and Sancho were always going to start. The only question mark was over which flank they would be playing on.
Rashford played on his preferred left whilst Sancho, who also prefers to play on the left and enjoyed an upturn in form when Rangnick switched him to that side last season, was placed on the opposite flank.
Sancho was arguably the best player on the pitch but should Ten Hag persist with that decision, it will benefit Rashford more than his counterpart.