Erik ten Hag has made similar decisions in Manchester United’s opening two pre-season fixtures against Leeds and Lyon.
The manager has played two different XI’s in either half of each game, barring goalkeeper Matej Kovar playing the entirety against the French side.
It has been a more youthful lineup, filled with under-21s players, in the second half of those matches whilst a stronger team including first-team regulars has played the opening 45 minutes in both encounters.
All three goals across the two games have ironically came in the second halves, with United’s young players displaying their talent.
However, it is interesting to note two decisions that Ten Hag made in relation to these two different XIs that he’s fielded.
Kobbie Mainoo and Hannibal Mejbri have both started in midfield alongside Mason Mount in the two games. The two academy talents have impressed during their minutes too.
Yet, both were included in the second half side, with the likes of Joe Hugill, Dan Gore and Brandon Williams.
This may suggest that Mainoo and Hannibal have leapfrogged them in Ten Hag’s estimations. It could also have to do with potential exits for Fred and Van de Beek.
The Brazilian midfielder was not included in United’s 31-man squad for the upcoming US tour with personal reasons being communicated as the explanation, however, there have been various reports linking him with a move away to Fulham.
Van de Beek’s future on the other hand is more up in the air. The midfielder scored on his return to the side on Wednesday but admitted there hasn’t been a clear decision on what he will be doing for the upcoming season.
“There is also a possibility probably that I move,” he admitted when speaking to The United Stand. “But everything is open… it’s hard to say where my future is but first I focus on getting as fit as possible.
“I am linked with so many clubs, you know how it is. Most of the time, things are not true. I don’t know, I’m not focusing on that. Everything is open, but I’m really proud to wear this shirt.”
If the pair do end up leaving the club, it could open up an opportunity for both Mainoo and Hannibal to stake claims for first-team positions in Ten Hag’s squad.
It has recently been stated that the Dutch manager loves Mainoo “to madness” and that he is set for a role within his squad next term.
Hannibal’s first-team chances are slightly slimmer than his teammates, however, if he continues to impress as he has done so far in pre-season, then it could be a real possibility.
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