Manchester United played their final pre-season game on Saturday afternoon, beating Everton 4-0. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finished the day in great spirits, with his team putting in a top display against Rafa Benitez’s side.
This was the first opportunity for several players to get minutes under their belt after an extended holiday thanks to the Euros, but they didn’t waste any time in getting themselves ahead, with Mason Greenwood pouncing on a Jordan Pickford mistake after just eight minutes. There was a miscommunication between the goalkeeper and Lucas Digne, with Pickford fumbling the header that came back to him, leaving Greenwood with an empty net to slot the ball in to.
Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire enjoyed a great tournament for England in the summer and that connection continued in to this game. With 15 minutes on the clock, Shaw delivered a brilliant corner which Maguire got on to the end of. A powerful header left Pickford with no chance and United had doubled the lead. This corner routine was repeated a few minutes later but Maguire was stretching to reach the ball and it ended up being a comfortable save for Pickford.
With less than half an hour played, Bruno Fernandes stepped up to take a freekick on the edge of the box and blasted it past the goalkeeper. Bruno, who has been so important for us since signing 18 months ago, will have taken plenty of confidence from finding the back of the net which a well taken set piece.
After a fairly calamitous first half from Pickford, he was replaced by new signing Asmir Begovic in goal, while Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Fred came on for Anthony Martial, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek for us.
Everton were the first side to threaten in the second half, with poor marking from United’s defence leaving Andros Townsend with a great opportunity to pull one back. He rifled his shot against the underside of the crossbar though, much to David de Gea’s relief. They then had another great chance to score, with Alex Owobi pulling a ball back across the face of goal but Demarai Gray, sliding in, couldn’t get his boot on the end of it.
With an hour played, United made further changes to the line-up, with Diogo Dalot, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe and Andreas Pereira replacing Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Shaw, Victor Lindelof and Fernandes, then ten minutes later Scott McTominay and James Garner came on for Dan James and Maguire.
The pace and quality of football gradually declined the longer the game went on, which is understandable given that match fitness is still lacking, with Everton having the better opportunities. Greenwood continued to get in to good positions though and Pogba wasn’t too far away with a freekick.
However, it was United who scored again, with Fred putting a ball in to the box and Dalot getting on the end of it, scoring a great looping header. With his back to goal, he flicked the ball up and over Begovic.
As is reiterated in every pre-season game, win or lose, the most important thing is players getting minutes under their belt and finishing the game without injury. However, it was pleasing to see such a good performance against another Premier League side, especially in the first half, which will leave the players with plenty of confidence ahead of next weekend’s game against Leeds.