What we learned from Manchester United’s friendly defeat vs Cadiz.

Manchester United returned to action midway through the World Cup break with a 4-2 friendly defeat at Cadiz on Wednesday.

The Red Devils were away for the first time since a late win at Fulham before club football was suspended in November, and the game was the first since Cristiano Ronaldo’s release from the club was confirmed.

As expected, there was plenty to take away from the six-goal contest that ended in defeat for Erik ten Hague’s side, who will no doubt be looking to get a win under their belt as they return to action on 21 December. They were preparing. .

So, with that in mind and goals out of the way, here’s exactly what we learned about United during a fascinating 90 minutes in Spain.

Since signing on loan from Newcastle in the summer, Dubravka has failed to make an impact at United at all.

That doesn’t sound all that surprising, but when you consider that there were compilations of Dubravka floating around Twitter when the deal was made, it certainly means something. Seriously, it happened.

The 31-year-old pulled on the shirt and started for only the second time as a United player against Cadiz, following a 4-2 scoreline against Aston Villa in the third round of the EFL Cup.

However, he did not cover himself in glory. While Dubravka couldn’t do much to stop either of the opening two goals, his performance in the second half was shaky. Clumsy hands, jerky kicks and two more goals were awarded.

United should probably sign genuine competition for David de Gea soon.

United fans got a real glimpse of Iqbal during the club’s pre-season tour ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

Iqbal saw plenty of minutes, often alongside Charlie Savage, and looked a natural in the first-team squad.

It continued here, and then some. On a night where many first-team players looked off the pace, the 19-year-old produced another fine account of himself. He won a penalty to get United back into the game, was always available to receive the ball and moved it intelligently – whether by pulling off a smart pass or driving through the lines himself.

He has spent plenty of time training with the first team so far, but has failed to get over Christian Eriksen and Casemiro. Iqbal looks more than ready for a regular taste of senior football, though, which United should provide in some capacity.

A loan move in January would be ideal for an ambitious young person.

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While Diego Dalot and Luke Shaw have shone at the World Cup for Portugal and England respectively, Ten Hague has had to desperately try to get something out of Aaron van Busaka and Brendan Williams.

Both Van Bissaka and Williams have become largely forgotten entities at United, and unfortunately against Cadiz the reasons for this were clear. Certainly, the game was a return from a long injury layoff for the pair. Excuses aside, neither was remotely assured of being in or out of possession.

But that’s only half the battle. It’s been clear for some time now that neither is at the desired level – a concern considering Wan-Bissaka was signed for around £50m – and yet he finds himself United gets second choice for early candidates.

Injuries to Dalot or Shaw could land United in hot water, with the full-back key to the ten Hague’s developing style of play. There needs to be some serious department turnover and recruiting asap – it’s hard to see a way back for either of them.

With this essentially being United’s second pre-season, wholesale changes and the prospect of a youth run-out felt inevitable.

Ten Hag made 10 changes for the second half, with a side that resembled something you’d expect to see in the FA Youth Cup. And while they were never going to be perfect, the difference between men and boys showed, with Cadiz eventually winning out. the game.

It’s the big picture that’s important here again. United’s fixtures come thick and fast on the return of club football. It’s easy for fans to clamor to give young players a chance together, but it’s important to strike a balance. There were promising moments against Cadiz, but United’s second-half XI looked out of their depth for the most part.

No doubt the lads will learn from it, but United cannot afford to throw them all in at the deep end in competitive fixtures like cup competitions. Football just doesn’t work that way.

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