Manchester United played their last pre-season match this Saturday, against Turkish side Galatasaray. The Red Devils put on a spectacular show, and came back from behind to stun their opposition and win 5-2.
Zlatan Ibrahimović scored his first goal in the United shirt within the first four minutes of the match. The giant Swede met an Antonio Valencia cross with an audacious overhead kick to score the opener.
Manchester United focused on Zlatan for most of this pre-season match build up, even getting the hashtag #ZlatanTime trending on social media, and the star striker almost broke the internet with his show-stopping goal.
However, United captain Wayne Rooney was the one to steal the show. The Englishman managed to bag two goals during the second half of the match, helping the Reds come back from behind.
Fellaini and Juan Mata also managed to get on the score sheet, with both of them scoring fabulous goals. Marouane scored a wonderful dipping header which caught the Galatasaray goalkeeper off-guard, whereas Juan Mata smashed home the last goal of the game after a brilliant build-up play from the United players.
Jose Mourinho played all the players he intends to keep in the squad, and the Portuguese manager must be buzzing as he can see what they are capable of.
Here are the five things we learned from Saturday’s match in Sweden:
- Zlatan never disappoints
Ibrahimovic lived up to his name after scoring his first goal in a Manchester United shirt just three and a half minutes after kickoff. He finished off a cross from Valencia with a spectacular scissor kick that beat the goalkeeper and bedded itself in the back of the net.
The new United #9 invigorated the crowd and gave them something to cheer about in the opening minutes. Mourinho will be hoping that the 34-year-old can keep up his form and help his side charge to a Premier League title. Many fans and pundits have doubted Zlatan’s abilities due to his age, but Zlatan addressed these concerns by replying that he is like “wine, the older I get, the better I get.”
Ibrahimović arrived in England from Paris after he left PSG on a free transfer. He scored 50 goals last season, becoming the Ligue 1 top scorer in the process. We can only expect the best from Zlatan.
- Valencia should not be left out
Antonio Valencia may have just stolen Matteo Darmian’s spot in the starting eleven. The Ecuadorian played a major role in Zlatan’s opening goal, crossing in a brilliant ball from the right flank. Valencia also provided the balls for Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini to smash in. Antonio, who appeared in Manchester United’s two previous matches, managed to get about 70 minutes of playing time before being taken off.
The 30-year-old was initially a winger, but has been adopting a right-back role in the recent seasons. He showed the manager the pace that he is able to bring to the squad, bursting forward on many occasions and leaving defenders bewildered. His experience as a winger and his new found abilities as a defensive player have coupled to make him the perfect full-back.
Matteo Darmian played his first match of United’s pre-season tour after returning from holiday. The Italian represented his side in this year’s European Championships. Matteo will now have to watch out as Valencia could easily replace him in the starting XI in the upcoming season.
- Mourinho needs to improve his defence
Manchester United were one goal up before Galatasaray thumped in two goals and took the lead at half-time. Gala’s first goal came from a complete and utter defensive breakdown from United’s point of view. The second one was hard to prevent, but was not impossible to do so.
The Red Devils started the match with Eric Bailly and Daley Blind manning the center back positions, but it is clear that the pair does not work well together. Whether it’s pre-season nerves or just a lack of a relationship, we can’t tell. But Mourinho will have to look at alternative pairings.
Daley Blind was caught square on several occasions, although you could see the determination and strength that he brings to the role. Meanwhile, Eric Bailly showed promises of growing up to be a great defender, but he still needs polishing.
Reports claimed the Manchester United are looking to sign either Bonucci or Miranda, but Mourinho will have to work quickly to find a solution ahead of Manchester United’s FA Community Shield match against Leicester City.
- Wayne Rooney is no longer a central midfielder
The Manchester United captain is relieved that he no longer has to play in a central midfield role. Rooney spent most of last season, and even the season before it, playing as a central midfielder. The Englishman performed exceptionally well in his midfield role, but it is clear that the number 10 relishes the chance to score goals.
Wayne Rooney managed to smash home two goals from the number 10 position against Galatasaray. He started the game playing just behind Zlatan. This was the role that he began his career in, and it is the dame role that made him one of the greatest English players ever.
Jose Mourinho told the fans that he wants to play the skipper in the striking role, not a midfield position. His decision will certainly pay off as Rooney looks re-born in his new role.
- Mourinho’s squad is beginning to take shape
Jose Mourinho inherited a squad which has been flooded with a quarter of a billion pounds worth of signings in the past three years. The Portuguese man is believed to be trimming his squad down to as little as 22 players, meaning that many players will face the axe – including Bastian Schweinsteiger.
This was the first match under Jose that included almost all the players, following their returns from their respective post-Euro 2016 breaks. He gave Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Morgan Schneiderlin, David De Gea, Matteo Darmian, Anthony Martial, and Marouane Fellaini their first appearances of the season.
Mourinho is still looking to complete his squad with one more signing – Paul Pogba. The Frenchman will be the final piece in the puzzle for Manchester United. Jose will have to work fast if he wants to complete his squad before United’s match against Leicester City.