Manchester United in the US: Five things we learned
Manchester United touched down in England on Thursday after completing their pre-season tour of the United States.
Here are five things we learned from the four-match tour.
1) UNITED STILL NEED A COMMANDING CENTRE-BACK
Senior figures at United insisted this week that the club will not move for a centre-back if - as looks likely - their bid to sign Sergio Ramos fails. That policy clearly needs a rethink. Louis van Gaal is big on balance - that is why he likes to have a left-footed player and a right-footed player in the middle of defence.
Left-sided utility man Daley Blind started all four games in the US alongside Phil Jones, who had a shocker against Paris St Germain and hardly covered himself in glory against Barcelona either. Chris Smalling was unlucky not to get more game time.
Blind's competition Marcos Rojo is hardly an assured centre-half so United need to invest in that area to improve their chances of a successful season.
2) VAN GAAL WANTS TO PLAY 4-3-3 THIS SEASON
Van Gaal played 4-2-3-1 all tour and then revealed after the final game against PSG that he wants to line his team up in a 4-3-3 formation this season. It is a formation his players are used to, having lined up in that system during the second half of last season.
The Dutchman has said he wants more pace and creativity in attack, so expect him to sign a winger before the transfer window shuts, especially if Angel di Maria departs for PSG.
3) ROONEY WILL BE THE MAIN MAN
Despite being linked with a number of forwards this summer, Van Gaal looks set to stick with the trio of Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and James Wilson. Adnan Januzaj will also provide occasional back-up as a striker.
Rooney scored 14 league goals last season, but Van Gaal wants him to add at least 10 more to that total this term.
The United captain has faith he can deliver, but he only chipped in with one goal in America - and that was a fortuitous one as he pushed Barcelona defender Adriano in the back before heading into the net.
4) ANDREAS PEREIRA DESERVES A CRACK AT THE FIRST TEAM
There were many happy faces at United in May when Pereira committed his future to the club by signing a new three-year contract despite interest from PSG.
United were worried they would lose another talented star in the making as they did with Paul Pogba, who left for Juventus on a free. Pereira has shown why there is so much hype around him over the last couple of weeks. He has impressed in the US, scoring his first goal against San Jose Earthquakes and setting up Januzaj against Barcelona.
The fact that the Brazilian can play across a front three will help his selection prospects, but he is at his most deadly in the number 10 position, where Van Gaal has a plethora of options.
5) MEMPHIS DEPAY WILL EXCITE UNITED FANS THIS SEASON
United moved quickly to beat PSG to the signature of Depay in April and on this evidence, it is easy to see why they were so keen on the Dutchman.
Every time he picked the ball up in the US, he looked dangerous. The 21-year-old's strength makes him a good operator with his back to goal and when on the attack, few can match his speed, vision and quick feet.
The Dutchman showed he has an eye for goal, too, capitalising on a defensive error to score his maiden United goal in San Jose.
Depay played in the number 10 role throughout the tour, but is likely to move out wide if Van Gaal opts for a 4-3-3 versus Tottenham on August 8.
Belfast Telegraph Digital