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Manchester United

Martial, Malacia and the Man Utd stars forcing themselves into Ten Hag's ideal line-up

8:46 AM EDT 7/19/22
Martial Malacia Ten Hag GFX
The Red Devils won again on their pre-season tour - they couldn't be title challengers, could they?

Manchester United frontman Anthony Martial sent another message to Erik ten Hag on Tuesday, scoring for the third game in succession in pre-season. The France international broke the deadlock in the 3-1 win against Crystal Palace in Melbourne to continue the Red Devils' 100 per cent record this summer.

It is a perfect start for new manager Ten Hag, who will be particularly pleased about his forwards impressing at a time when uncertainty surrounds the future of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were also on the score sheet, with Joel Ward netting a consolation for Palace.

Martial has been particularly impressive on tour after being given the chance to fight for his future. And after goals against Liverpool and Melbourne Victory, he opened the scoring after 17 minutes, with a well-taken finish.

Rashford doubled United's lead three minutes after half-time and Sancho added a third just before the hour.

Ward struck in the 74th-minute and United youngster, Will Fish, was sent off late on for a professional foul on Victor Akinwale, but Ten Hag's side held out to maintain their flawless pre-season record.

  • Erik ten Hag

    Ten Hag's team takes shape

    Ten Hag has been consistent with the majority of his starting XI so far this pre-season.

    A midfield of Fred, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes has been his favoured trio, while Martial, Sancho and Rashford have started two of the three games so far.

    Harry Maguire, meanwhile was again chosen on the right of the central defence, making it clear where Ten Hag plans to use him this season.

    For the first time on this tour, the United manager opted against making wholesale changes at half-time, suggesting he is getting a clearer impression of his preferred team and wants to see more of it.

  • Marcus Rashford

    Attacking options

    That's now seven goals between them for Martial, Rashford and Sancho in three pre-season games and, as a trio, they have looked lethal.

    It is hard to make too many judgements at this early stage but it is a front three that has the potential to cause problems for Premier League defences.

    All three have speed, trickery and mobility. Crucially – in the case of Martial, in particular – they all look like they have a point to prove.

    If Ten Hag can keep them fit and focused, perhaps he won't be as reliant on want-away Ronaldo as he thought.

  • Diogo Dalot

    Dalot gets his chance

    Diogo Dalot was told at the end of last season that he was in Ten Hag's plans – and the manager has been as good as his word.

    Right-back is an area United believe they can improve upon but Dalot looks like he will get the chance to stake his claim ahead of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who could yet be sold if an acceptable offer comes in.

    Dalot has started all three games on tour, with Ten Hag a fan of his attacking instincts. And he did himself no harm by setting up Martial's opener.

  • Tyrell Malacia

    Malacia's first start

    Tyrell Malacia didn't waste his chance to make an impression, playing a key part in Martial's opening goal.

    Ten Hag has described him as a modern, attacking full-back and he demonstrated that when charging towards the edge of the box and floating a pass to Dalot on the opposite side.

    Dalot's cross was then finished coolly by Martial.

    That is precisely the type of link-up play Ten Hag wants to see from his full-backs this season.

    Former Feyenoord starlet Malacia is also willing to take corners, which could offer another dimension to United's set-pieces.

  • Donny van de Beek - Manchester United 2022/23

    Van de Beek makes an impression

    Given Ten Hag's determination to overhaul his midfield this summer, it does raise questions over the future of Donny van de Beek.

    The arrival of Christian Eriksen will have a direct impact on his playing time, while Frenkie de Jong remains United's top target.

    But the Netherlands international was one of Ten Hag's key players at Ajax, so it will be fascinating to see if they can repeat their success.

    Van de Beek offered a reminder of his qualities when coming on at half-time and immediately setting up Rashford for United's second.

    It should also be a timely confidence boost for a player who has endured a frustrating couple of years in English football.