Manchester United 1-0 Kristiansund.
The Reds grabbed a late winner through Juan Mata to defeat Kristiansund, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hometown team, 1-0 in Oslo, Norway. It was a match that United dominated through possession and chances created, but they couldn’t breach the Norwegian side’s impressive back line until the final minute of stoppage time.
Here are a few takeaways from the match:
Scott McTominay has grown as a player
Something that has been evident throughout the preseason is the growth of Scott McTominay, who looks like he could be a starter on matchday 1 against Chelsea just 12 days from now.
McTominay saw limited action for the last 2 seasons, and seemed to be used more to send a message by Jose Mourinho to Pogba at times. Now, he’s been able to showcase his improved decision making and vision. He looks like a more reliable partner for Pogba than Nemanja Matic is at the moment, though most would agree that United need new midfielders through the transfer window.
McTominay might not be a finished product yet, but the growth he’s shown is very promising, especially considering he’s approaching the age where players can no longer just be young and full of potential. He needs to start contributing, but he clearly has the skillset to do so.
Solskjaer needs a reliable no. 10
The 4-2-3-1 formation has been used in every single preseason outing this summer, and though it’s given the United faithful a lot to be excited about from the wingplay, forwards, and use of youth, a major piece is still missing from a starting 11: A true no. 10.
Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, and Andreas Pereira have played the majority of preseason minutes at the 10, but each comes with a few problems that could rule them out from being the first choice 10. Inconsistency in attacking creativity and distribution roles have held back United’s attack the past few seasons, but this team finally has a manager that wants to attack. They can’t afford inconsistency anymore.
Bruno Fernandes has been linked with United all summer, and news of a potential move has picked up again. Paulo Dybala has also been mentioned as an option for a potential deal that would send Romelu Lukaku to Juventus. Either player would significantly improve the squad at that position, but nothing has happened yet. Pogba could be another option, and he excelled in an attacking role during Solskjaer’s time as caretaker manager, but the squad is also short of reliable holding midfielders.
The no. 10 role will be an important position for United under the current setup, but it doesn’t seem like Solskjaer has found his starter just yet.
Phil Jones can’t score bicycle kicks
This isn’t much of a surprise, but just in case we needed it confirmed...
Phil Jones has just attempted an overhead kick.— The Busby Babe (@TheBusbyBabe) July 30, 2019
It would have been on target, but came off his own hand.
Extra: A great moment for the Solskjaer family
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wasn’t the only one of his name on the touchline today.
His youngest son was sat next to him on the United bench, but his oldest, Noah Solskjaer, made his professional debut for Kristiansund against his father’s club.
Noah didn’t get a lot of playing time, but it was enough to get involved as United pressed late for a winner. He even took on Pogba as the Frenchman looked for a way through the Kristiansund defense.
Congratulations to Noah and the Solskjaer family for a great occasion, and all the best to him as he begins his playing career.