Manchester United won their second pre-season friendly fixture against Lyon on Wednesday as the returning Donny van de Beek scored the only goal of the game.
The 1-0 victory was again secured in the second half as Erik ten Hag swapped the more experienced players for a team mostly filled with academy talent at the interval.
It was Dan Gore, who was awarded the club’s Under-18s Player of the Year last term, who whipped in a beautiful cross for Van de Beek to strike first time for the goal.
The first half also produced good moments for several players. The midfield trio of Mason Mount, Hannibal Mejbri and Kobbie Mainoo all looked sharp and goalkeeper Matej Kovar displayed some excellent distribution throughout.
However, one critique of the first half performance was the lack of killer instinct to put away chances.
United were able to carve open the Lyon defensive setup on numerous occasions, but without a recognised centre forward, the chances have not been getting put away.
In a team that has played without a no.9 in the opening two games, with the likes of Amad, Jadon Sancho or Hannibal Mejbri moving into a false-nine position, it’s not too surprising that United are lacking that finishing touch in these opening practice games.
Of course the return of Marcus Rashford will be a boost in terms of goalscoring threat, following the announcement of his extended contract, however there is more needed in order for United to challenge.
Ten Hag knows that. It’s no secret that he wants a world class striker to compliment his team but he has faced several problems. United hit a brick wall in terms of negotiating a deal for Tottenham Hotspur forward Harry Kane and despite agreeing personal terms with alternative option Rasmus Hojlund, there still seems to be an issue in relation to the fee United will pay for the 20-year-old.
Following the final whistle in Scotland, Ten Hag sent a message to his current players but also the board above that United need to fix their finishing woes from last term.
“We started with three massive chances,” he told club media. “That is the straight criticism, you have to score. That was our problem last year and we have to realise that and be more ruthless.”
United have strengthened other areas. Mason Mount has come in to bolster the midfield and Andre Onana underwent his medical at Old Trafford on Wednesday as a replacement for the departed David de Gea.
Yet, a deadly striker remains absolutely crucial for The Reds before the start of the Premier League season.
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