Manchester United returned to action for the first time ahead of the 2023/24 campaign as they clashed with Leeds United in a pre-season friendly at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, Norway.
With several first-team stars still on break, Erik ten Hag named a starting XI with a good blend of senior squad players and youngsters.
Tom Heaton started in goal with a defensive quartet of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Alvaro Fernandez..
Kobbie Mainoo, Hannibal Mejbri and Mason Mount formed the midfield trio.
Jadon Sancho led the line with Omari Forson and Amad Diallo flanking him on either wing.
Here are three things we learned as Manchester United beat Leeds by two goals to nil.
Mainoo extremely impressive in midfield
Mainoo was arguably the Red Devils’ outstanding player in the opening 45 minutes of the game.
The 18-year-old played as the deepest-lying midfielder and was a calm and assured presence all through.
His passing was crisp and he displayed excellent technical ability. The Englishman was composed in all that he did and never looked in doubt.
Mainoo combined well with his partners in the middle of the park. He did well in linking the defence to the attack by always showing up for the ball and picking out a pass.
The United academy graduate showed all the qualities a manager or fan would want in a midfielder and it’s no surprise why Ten Hag is a big admirer.
Ahead of the game, the United boss emphasized the need and importance of integrating the youth into the first team and on account of his performance in the first-half, Mainoo could very well follow in Alejandro Garnacho’s footsteps and become the breakout star this season.
The biggest compliment that can be paid to the number 37 is he looked so mature and stuck out in a team that boasted some of the world’s most famous players such as Sancho, Varane and Martinez.
Promising debut from Mount
Most eyes during the game were firmly trained on United’s newcomer – Mount.
The former Chelsea man was good and in instances, proved why Ten Hag was hell-bent on adding him to the ranks at Old Trafford.
The 24-year-old was aggressive in his pressing and fashioned a clear-cut chance in the opening stages when he pinched the ball off a Leeds player to go through on goal.
Mount also had other opportunities to score and would have been slightly disappointed not to have found the back of the net in his first appearance.
That he can deliver balls into the box from dead-ball situations is an added advantage from Ten Hag who has another technician to call upon from set-pieces.
Mount was everywhere and covered every blade of grass – this will be invaluable and as United’s pre-season tour carries on, supporters will be able to learn more about their new player and what he can bring to the side during the regular season.
No need to loan out Amad – he is ready
Alongside Mainoo, Mount, Hannibal and Fernandez, Amad was also spectacular.
Fresh off a loan spell with Sunderland last term, a decision on the Ivorian’s immediate future has not been made and it’s expected that pre-season will play a huge part in Ten Hag’s ultimate decision.
Should the 21-year-old dazzle, he will likely force himself into Ten Hag’s plans and give himself the platform to become a mainstay in the team.
This is undoubtedly Amad’s mission and he has started in sublime fashion. He was easily the Reds’ most lethal and threatening attacker in the first period of the game.
He showed a remarkable ability to cut in from the right and wrap his foot around the ball. Amad had golden chances to score and on another day, would have converted and made at least one count.
The winger should be allowed to further his development at the Theatre of Dreams rather than be loaned out again. Amad is ready and his talent is such that he can make his mark alongside the big boys.