Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer singled out new signing Donny van de Beek and returning goalkeeper Dean Henderson for praise after seeing his side lose 1-0 to Aston Villa on Saturday.
The pre-season friendly saw Solskjaer name an experimental starting side with the likes of Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, David de Gea and Bruno Fernandes all absent.
In their place, midfielder Van de Beek played the full 90 minutes in his first appearance for the Red Devils, while Henderson started in goals as he looks to stake his claim for the number one spot.
While the result wasn’t what Solskjaer would have been hoping for, with Ollie Watkins scoring the winner for Villa in the 16th minute, he was left impressed by his Dutch signing and noted that Henderson « played like a proper Manchester United goalkeeper ».
“Donny was maybe the biggest plus in the outfield, » Solskjaer told MUTV. « He’s such a finder of space and he creates time for himself with his timing and movement. I was very happy with his performance.
“There were some positives as well, some good positives like individual performances – I thought Deano showed his authority back there and he played like a proper Man United goalkeeper. And especially in the second half, you saw Teden [Mengi] when he came on, how exciting a prospect he is.
« In the first half I thought we played some good stuff and created chances. The most important thing is valuable minutes because this pre-season is such a strange and different one for us. We’ve had two weeks back and it’s only one week now until we start the league.
« Of course, the Europa League will help us in that respect because the players who have played in that over the summer don’t really need that much, and some of the international games. But you could clearly see that some of them need minutes.
« We said at half-time that we were playing some great football at times and getting into some fantastic positions, but there was a lack of sharpness and maybe a lack of lungs because it’s early doors. But we need to be more clinical, we need to score those goals because then you go home happy. Then again, the result wasn’t the main thing. »
Solskjaer’s side begin their Premier League campaign against Crystal Palace next Saturday having finished third last season.
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