Manchester United have ended their pre-season tour with a 2-0 defeat against Paris Saint-Germain thanks to goals from Blaise Matuidi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Man United were lucky not to go behind within the opening three minutes when David de Gea passed the ball straight to Ibrahimovic 20 yards from goal. Fortunately for De Gea, the Swede blazed over. Juan Mata then brought the ball down brilliantly inside the PSG box before finishing calmly but his effort was ruled out for offside.
De Gea made a shaky start to the game and he was one of the players at fault for PSG’s opener as he came out into no man’s land before a defensive mix-up allowed Matuidi to poke the ball into the net. It was poor all round from a defensive point of view from United and PSG quickly added a second as Ibrahimovic tapped in following good work from Maxwell down the left.
After the break, United improved somewhat and Wayne Rooney headed it back to Memphis Depay, who fired a volley wide. Andreas Pereira, coming off the substitute’s bench, also provided a spark going forward. But they could not find a way past a stubborn PSG defence, meaning the French side saw out the win.
Poor defending again
United have been linked with the likes of Sergio Ramos and Nicolas Otamendi this summer and it is there for all to see why supporters are crying out for a world-class centre-back.
The confusion that led to PSG’s first goal could have been avoided if a dominant presence took control of the situation and cleared the danger before it became a problem for United. For their second, Phil Jones was completely unaware of Ibrahimovic behind him until it was too late. Van Gaal is said to be happy with his options if Ramos does not leave Real Madrid, which is hugely worrying ahead of the new campaign.
Rooney and Memphis have been linking up well during the tour and their blossoming partnership continued in Chicago. The duo found each other on a number of occasions, although their finishing was lacking as they often fired wide of the goal.
It looks like Rooney and Memphis will be van Gaal’s first-choice striking partnership going into the new Premier League season, which is no bad thing considering both players have been proven to score goals. Memphis made his name as a winger for PSV Eindhoven last term but his future, at least for now, will be up top.
The experienced midfield pairing struggled to take command of the game during the first half at the Soldier Field, which raised the question of whether they might be too similar to work together effectively.
Both Carrick and Schweinsteiger like to drop deep for the ball. Van Gaal will want them to get in possession and influence the game but this means there is no-one looking to turn the opposition around and the midfield stagnates as a result. It looks, then, that Morgan Schneiderlin or Ander Herrera will play against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the Premier League season. In any case, it is a good problem for United to have given the dearth of options in the middle of the park last term.
Darmian has been one of United’s standout performers during the tour and he continued his good form against PSG. The Italian put in a solid shift and looked at ease on both the right and left hand side of defence. Darmian also contributed going forward and always made himself available to his teammates.
Fans may still be a bit sore about his arrival given the fact that it all but ends Rafael’s time at the club but he will undoubtedly prove to be a fantastic addition to van Gaal’s squad.
Defeat – a blessing in disguise?
United still have some problems to address in their squad but perhaps supporters would have turned a blind eye if they had won all of their pre-season games.
As it panned out, van Gaal’s side were poor at the back against PSG which will lead to scrutiny ahead of when it really matters in under two weeks time. This may be a good thing, as it could prompt van Gaal and Ed Woodward to bring in reinforcements. United brought in the likes of Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao far too late last summer and it impacted on their season as they made a poor start. They would be wise to avoid a repeat this time around.