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Manchester United jetted back into the country on Thursday evening after their pre-season tour of the United States.
Although they ended the tour with a loss to Barcelona- with Neymar scoring the only goal of the encounter- the Red Devils had a relatively good spell; winning four of their five friendly matches in the States.
Team spirit was high in the United camp evident from photos posted online by the players, as the entire squad was present, including those sidelined like Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young; unfit to play but nonetheless inculcated into the squad to feel involved in the preparations for next season.
The relationship between the players and the coaching staff appeared tight knit compared to Jose Mourinho’s first pre-season with the club, but there were equally some vital lessons to learn from the tour.
Manchester United’s defense had been blighted with injuries last season, which is why the signing of Victor Lindelof from Portuguese champions Benfica brought some reassurance in preparation for the new season.
Be that as it may, the United backline still appears close but no cigar. Lindelof has been culpable for much of the pre-season with shreds of comical defending- his pairing with the jittery likes of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones hasn’t aided to the cause either.
Although the backline is far from what Mourinho envisaged it to be, United are still a work in progress and what better time to commit mistakes than in pre-season, no?
Jose was impressed when Romelu Lukaku and Lindelof made it in times for the pre-season round of fixtures, but there is a lot to be desired from the manner in which United have since conducted themselves in the transfer market.
The gaffer has over the course of the pre-season taken up an empathetic tone to Ed Woodward and his team, recognizing the inflated demands of the current European football market.
Even so, the 54-year old manager has failed at hiding his true feelings.
Barcelona utterly destroyed United in the middle of the park; punctuating how the Red devils are in dire need of a defensive midfielder.
Nemanja Matic still remains to be Mourinho’s preferred target, although the United boss may have to compromise on an alternative with days quickly trickling by.
Ivan Perisic has been on United’s radar all summer long but the club has seemingly, if not assuredly, lost interest in the winger after Inter Milan demanded Anthony Martial’s inclusion as part of the deal.
Whether Renato Sanches or Gareth Bale- who have recently been fancied with a move to Old Trafford- Jose looks set to strengthen his side with a wide attacking player this summer.
United could after all use some decent bit of crossing.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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