Manchester United manager, José Mourinho was pleased with the overall performance of his squad throughout this pre-season tour, which ended on Wednesday evening with a 2-1 victory over Serie A side, Sampdoria at the Aviva Stadium. The Red Devils controlled the game from the beginning with Sampdoria not putting too much pressure on the Europa League Champions. However, despite this is clear to see that United are still prone to defensive mistakes.
The main talking point at kick off was that new signing Nemanja Matić started for United in what looked like a potential starting XI for the new season. The Serbian only joined United from Chelsea on Monday for a rumoured £40 million. However, the midfielder settled right into the squad and could be seen instructing his teammates throughout his time on the pitch. His signing could be the bit of leadership and direction that this squad needs to combat these mistakes. However, it is early days yet.
While it is fair to say that there is nothing in these types of games and they are essentially a glorified kick about, the United backroom staff will have wanted their players to be taking these games seriously and keeping the mistakes to the minimum. The game’s first goal could have easily have been a sensational own goal from Daley Blind with only 5 minutes on the clock. The Dutch defender sent a heavy pass back to De Gea without checking if the keeper was in position. Queue madness as the United keeper paced back to stop the ball from rolling into his own net. The Spaniard had to stretch out and tip the ball out of play which resulted in an indirect free-kick some 6 yards out from the goal.
Sampdoria’s equaliser in the 63rd minute was a nice piece of counter attack play but again it shouldn’t have occurred. Karol Linetty delivered a fine cross for striker Fabio Quagiarella. The United defence did a poor job of clearing the danger and delivered the ball to the feet of Dennis Praet who hit it hard and low. De Gea and his defenders could only look on as the ball rolled into the bottom left corner of the net.
Not to be too hard on Mourinho’s men, their attacking prowess in the 90 minutes was superb and they really should have scored a few more with Henrikh Mkhitaryan left open in the box on a few occasions from crosses. His headers just going wide of the goal. However, Sampdoria’s defence circled the attackers and closed down the opportunities during open play and were impressive in their own right despite the defeat on the night.
With their pre-season now complete, United’s priorities lie to next Tuesday and a meeting with Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. While it won’t be the trophy Mourinho will be clamouring for, he will be keen for his squad to lay down a marker for the season ahead and to push on to bigger and better targets. After the match in the Aviva, Mourinho again insisted that he still would like another player before the transfer window closes. Hopefully, it will be one that suits his, and his squad’s needs defensively because it could be another long, dreary season for United fans if defensive errors are not corrected before the season starts.
Manchester United: De Gea (J. Pereira 75′), Lindelof (Jones 75′), Smalling (Bailly 75′), Blind (Martial 59′), Valencia (C), Matić (Carrick 45′), A. Pereira (Herrera 45′), Pogba (Fellaini 45′), Darmian (Tuanzebe 75′), Mkhitaryan (Mata 45′), Lukaku (Rashford 59′)
Substitutes: Fosu-Mensah, McTominay
Goals: Mkhitaryan (10′), Mata (80′)
Sampdoria: Puggioni (Tozzo 85′), Sala (Bereszynski 75′), Barreto (Djuricic 75′), Caprari (Bonazzoli 75′), Linetty (Alvarez 65′), Praet (Verre 75′), Regini (C), Pavlovic (Murru 65′), Silvestre, Quagliarella (Kownacki 85′), Torreira (Capezzi 85′)
Substitutes: Simic, Pires, Leverbe
Goals: Praet (63′)
Yellow Cards: Torreira (73′)
Referee: Neil Doyle (IRL)