Onana reveals why Ten Hag fought hard to get him, the battle at No 10 heats up between Mount and Fernandes and Bellingham is the one that got away…

Onana reveals why Ten Hag fought hard to get him, the battle at No 10 heats up between Mount and Fernandes and Bellingham is the one that got away…

The latest leg of Manchester United‘s preseason tour of the United States ended in defeat, but Erik ten Hag had much to reflect on.

United’s new $47.1 million No. 1 Andre Onana was eventually given his first start, allowing fans to witness his talents. 

At the conclusion of this 2-0 defeat, Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes had both taken a turn on the winger, despite the fact that there had been a great deal of pre-match speculation about who would start at No. 10. 

Elsewhere, it was a cruel twist of fate for juvenile Kobbie Mainoo, who was given a starting position but left the NRG Stadium on crutches at the end of the night.  

Chris Wheeler of Mail Sport has identified five key takeaways from United’s most recent preseason match in the United States. 

ONANA IS POSITIVE ABOUT THE FUTURE, AS SHE GIVES HER APPROVAL 

Andre Onana’s debut for Manchester United against Real Madrid in Houston did not get off to the best of beginnings, as he allowed goals to both Jude Bellingham and Joselu within the first six minutes.

However, Onana was not responsible for either goal, and there was likely more interest in how the Cameroonian would implement his sweeper keeper style at United.

At times, Onana was stationed in the center of his own half, and just before halftime, he was level with Raphael Varane 40 yards from his own goal to provide United with an additional outfield player and receive a pass from the Frenchman.

On another occasion, Onana rescued United from a defensive crisis and initiated an attack that nearly resulted in a goal by Mason Mount.

Erik ten Hag wanted a goalkeeper with confidence with the ball at his feet when he recruited the former Ajax goalkeeper from Inter Milan for £47.1 million after realizing he would never get that from David de Gea. He will alter United’s style of play.

That is not to say that Onana is incapable of being a goalkeeper; he made adroit saves from Vinicius Junior and Joselu to keep United in the game.

INJURY ROBS MAINOO OF BIG STAGE

The fact that Kobbie Mainoo started in Houston ahead of Christian Eriksen, Scott McTominay, and Donny van de Beek is indicative of the promise he displayed during preseason play.

Saturday’s victory over Arsenal in New Jersey was Mainoo’s first as a member of Manchester United’s first team, and he assisted on the opening goal.

What a pity, then, that Mainoo’s most recent appearance lasted only a few minutes before he sustained an injury when Casemiro fouled Rodrygo, who then collided with the young midfielder.

Mainoo required a few minutes of medical attention, and the dismay on his face as he arose from the ground indicated that he would no longer be participating in this game. 

He was replaced by Christian Eriksen, who labored to keep up with Real Madrid’s midfield trio of Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga, and Aurelien Tchouameni.

THE NO 10 CONUNDRUM 

Mason Mount’s £60 million transfer from Chelsea prompted the question of where he would slot into Erik ten Hag’s 4-2-3-1 system. 

Mount was deployed as a No. 10 in Houston as Casemiro returned to the starting lineup. Mount had previously played in a deeper midfield position against Leeds, Lyon, and Arsenal.

It resulted in Bruno Fernandes being shifted to the right flank, a tactic employed by Ten Hag on multiple occasions during the previous campaign that rarely seems to bring out the best in the United captain.

Mount brings a great deal of vitality to his position, and in the second half he raced 40 yards back to make a superb recovery tackle on Tchouameni.

In the second half, Ten Hag repositioned Fernandes at No. 10 and Mount on the right, and both teams made numerous substitutions. 

As the season progresses, it will be intriguing to see how the United manager utilizes Mount and Fernandes to get the most out of both players.

BELLINGHAM is the one who escaped. 

There was a time in 2020 when Jude Bellingham and his parents visited Carrington, where they were greeted by Sir Alex Ferguson and Bryan Robson in hopes that the promising young midfielder from Birmingham City would choose to join United.

Bellingham chose Borussia Dortmund instead, and by the time he joined Real Madrid last month in a deal that could reach £115 million, he was out of reach for United.

Even though he appeared suspiciously offside when he raced onto Antonio Rudiger’s pass, the 20-year-old demonstrated his class within five minutes at NRG Stadium. 

Onana came out of his goal and defeated United’s new goalkeeper with a superb dink into the net to score his first goal for Madrid as Bellingham cleared the ball with one touch.

It was by no means the only time Bellingham displayed skill; in the 33rd minute, a dribbling run into the area resulted in a goal-bound shot.

Lisandro Martinez decided to intervene just before halftime when he was cautioned for bringing down the youth. The two players engaged in a shoving match until Bellingham’s England teammate Mount intervened.

Bellingham did not return for the second half because he had already surpassed expectations.

(YET AGAIN) UNITED ARE BOX-OFFICE 

United’s first tour match against Arsenal at the 72,000-seat MetLife Stadium in New Jersey was sold out, as was the second against Wrexham at the 34,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, despite Erik ten Hag’s decision to field a predominantly youthful team.

It appeared that the most enticing match of United’s preseason tour of the United States against Real Madrid in Houston would not fill the NRG Stadium, and the fact that the cheapest tickets cost £150 could have been to blame.   

The arena’s capacity was 72,000, but the official attendance count was 67,801.

Onana reveals why Ten Hag fought hard to get him, the battle at No 10 heats up between Mount and Fernandes and Bellingham is the one that got away…