Things we learned at Old Trafford

Sunday 31 July 2022 17:52

Manchester United finished the pre-season campaign with a 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford.

There were, naturally, a lot of hot topics and talking points to come out of Erik ten Hag's first Old Trafford game since taking charge of the club, with honours even following a goal apiece in the second half.

Amad opened the scoring before Alvaro Garcia levelled matters in front of a bumper crowd enjoying the chance to watch the Reds in action, in a game largely played in bright sunshine in Manchester.

Christian Eriksen was replaced on the hour after an encouraging first start.


Pre-match was all about a warm welcome for Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and, of course, new boss Ten Hag on his first time here as manager. Cristiano Ronaldo was first out of the tunnel and applauded the fans on his opening outing of pre-season, with the supporters returning the gesture with gusto. From our vantage point in the press box, we could also see a number of first-team squad players supporting their pals from the executive area. The likes of David De Gea, Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford were among them.


There was always going to be a great deal of scrutiny on new boys Martinez and Eriksen, with both making positive starts. Martinez headed away a corner inside the first minute and has a mix of composure on the ball, aligned with aggression in the tackle. Eriksen played the pass of the half after receiving the ball from Tom Heaton and picking out Alejandro Garnacho before the Dane went agonisingly close to opening the scoring. Old Trafford rose to salute a goal but his shot flew narrowly off target. The pair departed on the hour mark and can be more than satisfied with their efforts.


Ten Hag cut a sharp-looking figure in his smart suit and white trainers, patrolling the technical area and absorbing every minute detail of the play unfolding out on the pitch. The Dutchman passed on instructions and encouragement and looked totally engrossed in the action, rarely switching his gaze away from the action. He also took time to sit in the dugout (now closer to the Stretford End after the switch) to discuss tactical matters with his assistants, Steve McClaren and Mitchell van der Gaag, but he was very visible for long periods. It's a sight we'll grow accustomed to but he has the aura of someone striving to be in total control of how the team performs.


Alejandro Garnacho was determined to impress from the outset and took his opportunity by performing with real purpose and flair. Attacking defenders and showcasing his dribbling ability, the FA Youth Cup-winner got the crowd off their seats when gaining possession and was a real bright spark. The Argentina Under-20 international still may be very raw but his talent, and personality for the big stage, were both apparent.

Amad scores the opener Video

Amad scores the opener

See how young striker Amad gave us the lead against Rayo Vallecano, as shown live in our app...


Erik's first-ever substitution at Old Trafford was an inspired one! Amad took under three minutes to open the scoring, despite having the rather large shoes of Ronaldo to fill, with the Portugal striker making way at half-time in his only pre-season outing. The Ivory Coast international was on hand to force the ball home with his left foot, when Alex Telles's swerving shot was misfielded by Diego Lopez.


Tom Heaton got down low to thwart Isaac Palazon and deserved better than having an unmarked Alvaro Garcia send in the rebound. The United keeper had breathed a sigh of relief when former Red Radamel Falaco's curler bounced back off the bar but enjoyed a solid game between the sticks, deputising for David De Gea. With Dean Henderson out on loan at Nottingham Forest, it's important he gets some game-time, should he be called upon in the Premier League.

United 1 Rayo Vallecano 1


The spoils were shared as the Reds ended pre-season with a draw at home to Rayo Vallecano.


There was a very youthful look about the team that finished the game, with Isak Hansen coming on for a first taste of senior action at United. The Norwegian even had a shot blocked within seconds as he looked to link up with the likes of Shola Shoretire, Hannibal, Zidane Iqbal and Amad, before teeing up Telles for a drive over the bar. Another Academy product, Ethan Laird, played the full 90 minutes and made two excellent blocks from right-back.


Pre-season ends with a 1-1 scoreline and a second draw of the friendly campaign. After the narrow loss to Atletico Madrid, there will be plenty of lessons learned by the boss over the two games with a number of players getting game-time and the chance to stake their claim. The competitive action gets under way in a week's time, when Brighton & Hove Albion come to Old Trafford, and we all hope the Reds are ready to make a good start in the Premier League.