With Manchester United fans keep to bury the painful memories from the end of the 2020-21 season, we can now welcome first team football back with the opening game of the pre-season taking place on Sunday afternoon.

We travelled to Pride Park, a team we haven’t played in the Premier League since their relegation in 2008, but who we’ve played an incredible seven times against in cup competitions since.

The game saw us reunited with our all-time top goalscorer, Wayne Rooney, who was appointed Derby County manager on a permanent basis back in January. Before kick-off, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Rooney had a catch up on the pitch side under the blistering sun, with the unforgiving conditions ready to make a difficult first game after a summer off. We also saw familiar faces in the opposition with former academy graduates Ravel Morrison and Tom Lawrence starting for Derby.

Tahith Chong, who has already agreed a loan move to Birmingham for the season ahead, opened the scoring within the first 20 minutes. He won the ball back on the edge of the box and then attempted to chip the goalkeeper, who got something on the ball, but not enough to stop Chong from slotting the ball in to the open net behind him. There were appeals for handball, with it looking as though Chong could’ve controlled the ball with his upper arm, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say it came off his chest!

Tom Heaton, who has returned to the club where he started his career in the youth team, started in goal and was required to make a good stop from Phil Jagielka of all people, who flicked a header goalwards from point blank range.

With half an hour to play, it looked as though the day was going to plain sailing for United, with Shola Shoretire and Facundo Pellistri linking up nicely. The Uruguayan took the ball round the keeper and put United 2-0 ahead.

However, just minutes later, Derby pulled a goal back when Colin Kazim-Richards found the bottom corner from distance. It was a great finish but United’s defence should have been quicker in closing him down.

Jesse Lingard, who came on in the second half to make his first appearance in our shirt for months after an impressive loan move at West Ham, was full of energy and confidence. It looked as though he would put United 3-1 up when the ball left his boot on the edge of the box, with the keeper beaten, but his effort came back off the underside of the crossbar.

For pre-season, especially with so many first choice players still on holiday following their summer at Euro 2020, the most important thing is players getting minutes under their belt, coming out unscathed and giving players the opportunity to put themselves in the manager’s thoughts for the season ahead. But it’s always nice to start the pre-season with a win.




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