The Red Devils will face old foes Liverpool for a pre-season friendly in Bangkok next Tuesday, with the 52-year-old finally getting the chance to watch his team in action three months on from his seismic appointment. With Cristiano Ronaldo still absent for “family reasons” following his bombshell transfer request, United have begun training without their star man.
Ten Hag’s top transfer targets, such as Frenkie de Jong, Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and Antony also remain out of reach for now, but there’s still plenty of talking points from the players that have been at Carrington.
With that in mind, Mirror Football takes a look at five things noticed from the Red Devils’ final training session before jetting off on globetrotting tour which spans four countries.
Antony Martial is set for second chance at Old Trafford, despite flopping on loan at Sevilla in the second half of last season. The 26-year-old’s United career looked to be over six month ago, but Ten Hag is expected to take a close look at him over the next few weeks. Goal report that the Dutch tactician planned to assess Martial’s pedigree even before Ronaldo decided that he wanted out.
The Frenchman possesses enough technical quality to make him capable of earning a place in Ten Hag’s first side, especially given the Red Devils’ lack of forward options. However, it’s Martial’s work rate that’ll undoubtedly need to improve, so pre-season presents the perfect opportunity for the striker to show his worth.
Loan lads back home
As Ten Hag’s predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, planned for the club’s future before receiving the sack in November, United purchased a host of young stars to delicately embed in their first-team. Two of them who were bought in the summer of 2020, Amad and Facundo Pellistri, spent time out on loan last season.
Pellistri, sadly, couldn’t prevent Spanish side Alaves from being relegated from La Liga following a full campaign with the club which included a call-up to Uruguay’s national team. Amad, meanwhile, enjoyed winning the Scottish title with Rangers, who also reached the Europa League final, only losing on penalties. Now with the opportunity to show that they’re ready for the step up back home with the Red Devils, United fans will be eager to see them on tour in Thailand, Australia, Norway and England.
Donny doing the work
Another Solskjaer signing, Donny van de Beek’s time in Manchester has so far been a huge disappointment. With only four Premier League starts to his name in 18 months at Old Trafford, the midfielder would’ve been delighted to hear that Ten Hag was going to in charge of him again – and will surely view him as a saviour.
Starring under the acclaimed coach’s tutelage while at Ajax, Van de Beek looks certain to be given more of a chance under the new boss, with Ten Hag using him as a dynamic goalscorer in Amsterdam. Putting in the hard yards at Carrington after a tough spell with Everton in the second half of last season, hopes are suddenly much higher for the 25-year-old.
Malacia’s first impression
The one player who United have signed this summer, left-back Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord, embarked on his first session with the Red Devils on Thursday, showing off his tenacious style of play in a short video clip. With a few flicks and tricks, the 22-year-old – sporting his new shirt number, 12 – also demonstrated some sharp passing and kept the ball from fellow full-back Alex Telles, whose future has been thrown into uncertainty thanks to Malacia’s arrival.
The Netherlands international has already hinted at what Red Devils supporters can expect to see from in Manchester, telling the club’s website : “As a footballer, I am strong in defence. I love to attack. Yeah, I have good drive and never give up.” He’s also inspired by United legend Patrice Evra, adding: “I love his style. Everything is fast, energetic.”
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Still no Ronaldo
Now having missed the Red Devils’ first four training sessions since Ten Hag and his coaching staff welcomed back their international players, United remain in the dark over when Cristiano Ronaldo will return. The Portuguese superstar – currently with his family in Lisbon – wants to leave the club this summer, but they’ve made their stance clear: he’s not for sale.
Ronaldo, set to be featured in the Red Devils’ new kit launch on Friday morning, is desperate to play Champions League football again, while Ten Hag and co will only feature in the Europa League during the upcoming campaign. Confirmed not to be on Friday’s flight, the idea that we’ll be seeing United’s No.7 strut his stuff at Old Trafford next term is becoming increasingly less likely.