Manchester United’s first XI got a solid hour of play in against Crystal Palace in a 3-1 preseason win on Tuesday. It was a really nice display of attacking football from Erik ten Hag’s side, who utilized the full-backs well and were able to do what United have struggled to do so much over the last few years: break a team down.
The first goal came from Anthony Martial in the first half, his third in three games on the tour, and saw his no. 9 skills on full display. He expertly controlled Diogo Dalot’s ball over the top with his chest to set up a controlled volley from close range past the keeper.
The second goal, and certainly the best on the day, was a real sight to behold. Quick passing from Martial to Jadon Sancho, back to Martial, to Donny van de Beek, and finally across to Marcus Rashford to smash it in. A proper team goal, quick one-touch passing and everyone on the same page to render the Palace defense helpless.
The third, another masterful combo of the front three, saw Sancho get on the scoresheet and wrap up the day for the first XI.
Party football is what we like to see, and this preseason has demonstrated a clear injection of energy in the team after a dismal 2021/22 season. The side aren’t just fun and enjoying themselves again, they’re also pressing intelligently, getting forward and creating moves with real intention, and seem much more in sync with each other than they did for much of last year.
In other words, we’re ready to get hurt again. It’s easy to buy into this team again, and the excitement is there for the new season to begin. It’s unlikely they sustain this momentum for a whole season given the lack of depth in key areas, adjustments to a new manager, and ongoing issues with club recruitment and notably wantaway Cristiano Ronaldo. It won’t be a quick fix and we shouldn’t get carried away, but we should find entertainment where we can and look for positivity in the football.
The goal for this season should be to find footing again, and if they can do so playing this kind of football it will at the very least be a joy to watch our favorite team again.