Match Report: Derby County 1-2 Manchester United

Manchester United started off their 2021/22 pre-season with a 2-1 away victory against Wayne Rooney‘s Derby County. Goals from Tahith Chong and 19-year-old Facundo Pellistri secured the win for United, while Colin Kazim-Richards goal for Derby was nothing more than a consolation. Wayne Rooney‘s reunion didn’t go to plan but it was a good result for the Red Devils, who now have their focus onto the next game against Queens Park Rangers F.C. next Saturday.

Story of the game

Derby seemed to be the more lively out of the both teams, showing their threat from out wide early and it was a quiet start from United. With his move to Birmingham City confirmed last week from the club, Tahith Chong looked the most lively in the opening exchanges of the match, constantly switching positions with his other teammates in the front 3 and would come deep to get on the ball or get in behind to stretch the Rams defence. He came close to scoring after some impressive movement in and around the box.

While he failed score from his first chance, he was able to find the back of the net and score United’s first goal of pre season after 16 minutes, capitalizing from a mistake from Derby midfielder Max Bird falling to score with his attempted chip but smashing into a empty net from the rebound.

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For Derby, it was obvious that Tom Lawrence and Ravel Morrison, former United youth product, were their danger men combing serval times to create chances for the Rams. Ravel specifically looked like a man with a point to prove, always getting on the ball and being direct on their left hand side against Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and set up a great chance for Tom Lawrence in the 30th minute with a beautifully whipped in inviting ball from the right hand side but the Welshman scuffed his header off target.

Nonetheless, they continued to try and level things up and the threat was evident from out wide with multiple crosses causing confusion for United’s raw center-back pairing of Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi. Just before half time, after a quiet half from Mason Greenwood, the young striker tried the spectacular from the half way line spotting the Derby County keeper off his line with the attempt seeming to not trouble the keeper.

At the change of the half there was 9 changes from Ole Gunnar Solskjær – changing all his outfield players and goalkeeper Tom Heaton who had a quiet unofficial debut, although he did make a couple of notible saves during his time between the sticks. Apart from the center backs with Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi keeping their places.

Derby looked to repeat the pressure they put on United in the first half, and once again it was out wide Derby looked like getting the most joy with a big chance missed from Colin Kazim-Richards, as the Derby striker tried his best Tom Lawrence impression, replicating his teammates with a poorly taken header inside the box.

United played some impressive stuff in the second half with the interchanges between Jesse Lingard, Shola Shoretire and Facundo Pellistri, and it was the young Uruguayan who scored the second for United showing great composure inside the box with amazing ball control to round the keeper.  Shola Shoretire had a very good performance and he found the Uruguayan with a pinpoint through ball.

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The Rams began to dominate the ball for a short period and the United goal was short lived as Colin Kazim-Richards made up for his missed chance in the start of the half by firing home from the outside of the box to the bottom left corner. It was a very well taken goal from the Turkish striker but their lack of potency in the final third was clear to see. They struggled to create any more real chances from that goal on when they were in control of the ball.

Jesse Lingard had an outrageous finesse shot from the left hand side outside the box which looked to be heading in only for the shot to be denied by the crossbar. Hannibal Mejbri came on to replace the debutant Joe Hugill. Hannibal, who came back from his first international duty with Tunisia, came on for the last 10 minutes to play an unorthodox center forward role a role we’ve seen him play when he made his debut against Wolves.

United seen the game out with keeping possession among themselves at the back and it always felt like there was a sign of respect from Derby against their Premier League opposition, evidently shown in the last few minutes with the lack of pressure from the Rams.

Bright Future

This match and pre-season as a whole was a great chance for some of United’s less high profile players to stake a claim in the squad. With United stars all resting after their summer exploits, This game was a clear indication from Ole Gunnar Solskjær and his coaching staff that they will stick with their policy of continuing to produce youth and there was a clear incentive to get the younger players playing and give them the opportunity to show what they’ve got . This was show in Solskjær’s team selection with the average age of the team being 23 years old.

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