Manchester United extended their perfect pre-season record on Sunday night, defeating fellow European giants Real Madrid 2-1 in the worst penalty shootout in the history of the sport. The match ended 1-1 at the end of regulation, with goals in each half from Jesse Lingard (Anthony Martial did a madness) and Casemiro. Because no one wants to see an extra 30 minutes of glorified training, the match then went straight to penalties, where United eventually prevailed. Here are some observations from the win.
Pre-season friendlies have jumped the shark
In what most watchers must have assumed to be some kind of fever dream hallucination, Real Madrid and Manchester United - arguably the two most famous football clubs on the planet, with long and distinguished histories - were led out onto the pitch by Ronald McDonald. Yes, two clubs with dozens of honors between them, represented by some of the biggest names in the game, emerged from the tunnel behind a fast food mascot.
We all understand the commercial appeal of these type of farcical events - Neymar's release clause isn't going to pay itself, is it? - but this was a step too far.
Who invited Ronald McDonald to Real Madrid vs. Man United? pic.twitter.com/2JJ6IPqlKK— Football Fights (@footbalIfights) July 23, 2017
We have slain the dragon called dignity.
What a miss from Marouane Fellaini definitely NOT the answer to scoring goals with Zlatan Ibrahimovic out the picture! pic.twitter.com/pAOsxC69fr— Goal UK (@GoalUK) July 24, 2017
Paul Pogba is in line for the captaincy
Not for the first time this pre-season, Paul Pogba was handed the captain’s armband when he joined the fray in the second half. For now, Pogba may still be behind Antonio Valencia in the pecking order, but it was noticeable that it was the Frenchman who was chosen as skipper despite the presence of more senior figures in Chris Smalling, David de Gea, and Ander Herrera.
Pogba certainly has the force of personality and presence to be a future captain, and may well wear the armband often this season given Michael Carrick’s likely limited involvement.
Victor Lindelöf was a waste of money
That tackle! That penalty! Are we sure he's any better than tragicomic duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling?!
Of course not. We know nothing. He may turn out to be excellent, or not. But he's just turned 23, and has only had a few halves of non-competitive football for his new club. If pre-season was a proper gauge of things to come, Louis van Gaal would've won the treble.