Manchester United continued their impressive start to pre-season with a ruthless display of attacking football against perennial Pennine rivals Leeds United in Perth.
After a decent but profligate display in their 2-0 opening win against Perth Glory on Saturday, United changed gear against Marcelo Bielsa’s Championship side – 17-year-old protege Mason Greenwood stylishly opening the scoring before Marcus Rashford’s sumptuous second.
Rashford and Daniel James both rattled the woodwork in a rampant first-half display, United controlled the second half too with Phil Jones powering in a header and Anthony Martial confidently dispatching a penalty after a clumsy foul on Tahith Chong.
Whether justified or not, Rashford is a man under pressure coming into 2019/20.
On the one hand he’s another gifted local lad off the United conveyor belt. On the other, he’s a figure of frustration who still needs to hone his finishing and lacks the killer instinct all good strikers possess.
But after an ice-cool finish to open the scoring against Perth Glory in the pre-season opener, on his weaker left foot, Rashford roared from the off against Leeds, thumping the post after 92 seconds following a lung-busting run from Victor Lindelof.
The 21-year-old tormented Leeds throughout the opening 45 minutes, showing searing pace and ingenuity – with his deft drop of the shoulder to flummox two defenders and composed finish to make it 2-0 world-class.
For a man who allegedly wants out of the club, he is conducting himself like a perfect professional during the early throes of pre-season.
Of course, his displays could also be construed as come-and-get-me pleas to would-be suitors. But you can’t help but be buoyed by another masterclass, if you’re a United fan.
The Frenchman was in the running for United’s best player against Perth and he was the best player on the field against Leeds – attracting attention from a hoard of markers who he cast aside like a toddler manhandling his toys.
A stunning threaded pass behind the left-back set up Aaron Wan-Bissaka who teed up Greenwood for the opener, before he flashed a long-range free-kick just wide of Kiko Casilla’s goal.
He then flung Adam Forshaw away before forcing a save from the Spaniard, firing just wide again soon after, having picked up a loose pass and advancing.
His final highlights of the opening 45 minutes was a sprayed pass to release Rashford who stung Casilla’s palms again before another smart pass to the burgeoning striker led to James hitting the post.
TWO NOT SO GOOD
We almost feel bad for including him in this article for the second game in a row, but it’s not unjustified targeting of the erratic Argentine defender, who endured a difficult first half.
United’s crisp, rapid distribution and movement across the pitch was a feature throughout the opening 45 minutes, but some of the La Plata-native’s passes left a lot to be desired.
After taunting Leeds with a series of keepie-uppies on the left touchline he fired a hospital pass into Juan Mata that saw him floored by Kalvin Phillips.
Even when United were largely poor last season, Rojo stood out as one of the worst players. In a vibrant squad than has been putting in high-energy performances so far this summer, he looks horribly out of place.
A fantastic servant for United for many years, he has had the club captaincy bestowed upon him for the upcoming season – one in which he is sure to see a significant reduction in playing time from the 38 games he played last season, only seven players featured more.
Impressive at left-back against Perth, working in tandem with James, he was part of the second wave against Leeds and was less effective.
Caught up the pitch on several occasions and leaving Jones exposed, while also getting into a late altercation for a typically robust challenge on Barry Douglas – though in reality there seemed little wrong with it.
A model pro and useful squad player, but Wan-Bissaka’s energetic, eye-catching first two displays are proof that Young will very much play second fiddle this season.
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