The best pieces from 2-1 friendly victory over Derby


The Premier League season is just around the corner and Manchester United are preparing for a title challenge.

The Red Devils began their preparations for the season with a trip to Pride Park to face Derby County on Sunday afternoon, hoping to hit the ground against Championship outfit and their familiar coach, Wayne Rooney.

The first half went smoothly enough, with Tahith Chong, currently on loan at Birmingham City (obviously) opening the scoring with a nice piece of play inside Ram’s penalty area. Substitute Facundo Pellestri made it 2-0 at the hour mark, and even though Derby pulled one back, the visitors held on to claim the victory.

What did we learn then from the 90 minutes of football? Here are the best pieces of Man Utd’s opening left against Derby ahead of the season.

Love it, @TahithC! ⚽️ # MUFC

– Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 18, 2021

The boy has rarely had a chance at Old Trafford, and Chong is set to spend another year away from his permanent home, having been sent on loan to Birmingham this summer.

However, he played for the Red Devils in this friendly and made an immediate impact, robbing Derby’s Max Bird and hitting the goalkeeper to strike home from close range.

He may not be in Solskjaer’s plans for this year, but if he can impress the blues in the championship, he can wear red next season.

Man Utd’s weaknesses raised their heads once again / Marc Atkins / Getty Images

Of course, this Man Utd side is not without its weaknesses. They have shown some defensive tenderness during Solskjaer’s time at Old Trafford, and especially on the right side of the defense.

Although Aaron Wan-Bissaka is an excellent one-on-one defender, he has a tendency to stop when the ball is on the other flank and leaves the back post completely guarded by some red devil.

Whether it is a technical shortcoming in his game or whether Solskjär asks him to do so, it is unclear, but Derby found almost a certain joy in that area on the pitch. That trend must be ironed out.

A frugal save from @TomHeatonGK! ?

A confident performance from our new goalkeeper so far, with United leading after 40 minutes? #MUFC

– Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 18, 2021

Tom Heaton will have been ecstatic to return to Man Utd this summer after leaving the club back in 2010. 11 years later, he put on the shirt and gloves of the Premier League giants and reported for himself.

The former Burnley man also made a clever save during the first half and showed his excellent reflexes to get away a close effort and keep the Red Devils ahead.

He will not get much playing time this year, but Man Utd has plenty of backup between the sticks and a fantastic personality to have around the locker room.

✨ Shola Shoretire ➡️ @ FPellistri07 ✨

A great link from two #MUAcademy forwards doubles our lead? #MUFC

– Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 18, 2021

Man Utd supporters were aware that they probably would not see Pellestri for a while when he put paper on paper at Old Trafford in October 2020, but they may be a little more optimistic for this season.

The 19-year-old can only impress this pre-season and hopes that his coach likes what he sees, and Solskjär will have been extremely encouraged by the calm his starlet showed in front of the goal of the winning strike.

Picked out by the equally talented Shola Shoretire, dimensioned Pellestri goalkeeper Kelle Roos, swept a shot and then rolled his foot over the ball, rounded the shot stopper and slid home. Easy.

So close to a special goal for @JesseLingard? #MUFC

– Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 18, 2021

Of course, the key for Solskjaer was to get as many minutes in mind for as many players as possible on Sunday. The Norwegian made nine substitutions at half time and even made three more during the second half.

It made it possible for the majority of Man Utd’s squad to run out, with some old faces staring as they returned to the side. Jesse Lingard almost put the reducer away having drawn the entire left side defense away, but the shot went straight into the arms of the goalkeeper.

There is infinite depth in this group, and they get all the minutes they so desperately need.

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