Manchester United suffered a 4-2 defeat against La Liga side Cadez in the first of two mid-season friendlies.
A heavily rotated United outfit showed their lack of finesse in the first half, going two goals down early on but managing to pull one back before the break. A much younger XI came out for the second half and their age showed in spite of brilliant brilliance, as Cadiz stormed back to win.
Having not played a game of football for nearly a month, United returned to the pitch in the only way they could – losing to a set-piece after eight minutes. Cadiz converted the angle of a free-kick from deep and Carlos Garcia slotted past a diving Viktor Lindelof to Martin Dubravka to make it 1-0.
As United tried to get a grip and shake the cobwebs, they found themselves 2-0 down moments later. Committing a number of bodies, Cadiz was able to steal possession at the back and counter-attack down the right. Aaron Van Busaka was unable to control Alex Fernandez, who squared Anthony Lozano for an easy goal.
United pulled one back from the penalty spot after 21 minutes. Zidane Iqbal did incredibly well to work his way into the 18-yard box and was brought down, before Anthony Martial scored his best Achraf Hakimi impression from 12 yards. Collected.
After a hectic opening 25 minutes, proceedings settled down, United settled into a steady possession groove and Cadiz began to fight back. Plays well in spells built by Ten Hague, expecting loose passes and poor touches.
However, they were not always fluid, constantly switching wingers in an attempt to find a more regular pattern. Cadiz never looked too stretched and always had an outlet when he was able to attack down United’s right, resulting in the Red Devils getting stuck in second gear at half-time. They used to get the upper hand.
As expected, wholesale changes were made for the second half, with the United XI now resembling the one that won the FA Youth Cup last season. Kobi Minno, highly rated by United fans, leveled the scores almost immediately after the break, cutting inside and curling a low left-footed shot into the far corner.
But their inexperience began to show as Cadiz pulled themselves back on the front foot, controlling possession, dictating the tempo and restoring their lead just shy of the hour mark. Ruben Sorino got on the end of a wicked, in-swinging cross that caught United’s young backline trying to play offside.
A much-changed and now incredibly young side from The Hague gave a better account of themselves in the final 20 minutes or so. His form was good and he got past the Cadiz press on several occasions, putting together clever passing sequences. However, they were penalized for a ball error less than 10 minutes later, as Tomas Alarcon made it 4-2.
With so much to learn from the young crop from the glorious opportunity to pull on the United shirt, Ten Hague will be more concerned with the first-team players’ slow start and how they react against Real Betis at the weekend.
GK: Martin Dubravka – 5/10 – Neither could do anything to stop either of the early targets. However, not the most reliable display; Panic in spells. The only player to make a flurry of half-time changes.
RB: Aaron Van Busaka – 4/10 – Ring rust was evident. Really should have got closer to Fernandez for Cadiz’s second and was also severely restricted when trying to attack.
CB: Taden Mengy – 4/10 – First appearance for United’s senior team since January after struggling with injury, but not the one he had hoped for. Mengi looked into his depths.
CB: Victor Lindelof – 4/10 – As the senior man in defence, you expect a lot from Lindelof. Not a performance that would force him back into competition with Rafael Varane and Lesandro Martinez.
LB: Brandon Williams – 5/10 – United tried to reverse when in possession, but having two right-footed players on the left at all times didn’t go particularly smoothly.
CM: Zidane Iqbal – 7/10 – Took a chance on it again, just like the preseason. Always looking to get on the ball and impose himself on the game. A really confident and mature display.
CM: Scott McTominay – 6/10 – Cadiz could have done more to get back to second place, but not primarily through his fault. Set the tempo well.
RW: Alejandro Garnacho – 6/10 – Before the start of the World Cup, United’s final goalscorer looked desperate to get into the game by constantly changing flanks, but he couldn’t find it.
AM: Donny van de Beek – 5/10 – He wasn’t helped by his poor passing around in the first half, but he didn’t take the game by the scruff of the neck like fans had hoped he would.
LW: Anthony Elinga – 4/10 – Struggled to come to grips with the pace of the game, which hurt United. Caught offside, unable to hit passes with his first touch and not nearly as good at getting them forward.
ST: Anthony Marshall – 7/10 – Ice cold penalty. Played well after that. United need to keep the man fit for the second half of the season. Wrap it in bubble wrap, Eric.
Mark Jurado – 6/10 – Caddies bid to try and catch offside; Should have tried to clear the cross regardless. He will learn from it. He then picked up and wished to continue.
DeShon Bernard – 6/10 – A forgotten name among United fans. Composed display taking into account the lack of minutes.
Tyler Fredrickson – 5/10 – Nothing important to report.
Sam Murray – 5/10 – A well pressed left hand side that complimented Shoretire beyond him. Defensively immature, though – much to learn and work on.
Kobe Menu – 7/10 – This is how you make an impact. The highly-regarded 17-year-old demonstrated his impressive technique minutes after being introduced with a well-placed goal.
Charlie Savage – 6/10 – Influence grew and the occupation consisted of the most.
Noam Emran – 6/10 – Drifting in and out of the game, but can be happy with his performance.
Isak Hansen-Aaroen – 6/10 – Lots of cool tattoos and some nice ball touches. That’s about it.
Shula Shoretire – 5/10 – Flashes of what he’s capable of, but no standout moments. Fouled a lot.
Charlie McNeil – 5/10 – Wasn’t afraid to drop the ball deep and try to make late, penetrating runs, but absolutely starved of service.
Erik Ten Hague – 6/10 – Deciding a manager is a tough game with so many changes and the main goal is to get the edge of the match. It was nice to see him let so many young players go, though, and he clearly instructed his team to try to dominate the ball.