Man United’s U.S. tour: Sancho, Mainoo impress as Maguire struggles

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Manchester United have completed their preseason tour of the United States and preparations for the new season are in their final stages. The bulk of head coach Erik ten Hag’s summer work has been completed during stops in New York, San Diego, Houston and Las Vegas, though the real business will begin when the Premier League kicks off with Wolves’ visit to Old Trafford on Aug. 14.

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The time spent in America has given the Dutchman an idea of who he can rely on when the season starts as he looks to build on a successful first campaign as manager. Here’s a look at United’s winners and losers from an insightful U.S. tour.


Andre Onana

The Cameroon goalkeeper arrived late on tour but he already looks at home. Starting for the first time against Real Madrid, he had a pass completion rate of 95% to show exactly why Ten Hag was so keen to bring him in. He’s been confident enough to take up a starting position high up the pitch, and also to race out of his goal to berate Harry Maguire after a sloppy mistake during the defeat to Borussia Dortmund.

Onana will get better and better the more he becomes integrated into the team, but the early signs are positive.

Jadon Sancho

This is a big season for Sancho after two years at Old Trafford that have been underwhelming, to put it kindly. He spent most of the tour playing in an unfamiliar position as the No.9 but he had some bright moments, particularly a well-taken goal in the 2-0 win over Arsenal in New York. He’s got lots of competition for a place in United’s attack, but he’s had a positive tour and it’s a good sign after last season’s problems that he seems relaxed and happy.

Ten Hag believes Sancho is an option at centre-forward next season, which should give him more chances to play.

Kobbie Mainoo

His tour ended in disappointment after suffering an ankle injury against Real Madrid, but the fact that he was on the pitch at all should give the teenage midfielder plenty of encouragement. Mainoo did so well against Arsenal in New York that he deserved his place against Real Madrid — it was just a shame that it was over before it began.

United had already made the decision that Mainoo wouldn’t be allowed to leave on loan this summer and once he’s fit again, he should be in line for more first-team opportunities. Ten Hag is clearly a fan.


Harry Maguire

It’s been a chastening summer for the England defender. After being stripped of the captaincy before the tour began, he was reminded of his status within the squad during his time in America. With new skipper Bruno Fernandes not on the pitch, he was twice overlooked as captain when Casemiro and Scott McTominay were given the armband.

After coming on as a substitute against Arsenal, Maguire was booked for a rash challenge and after being picked to start against Borussia Dortmund, he got a furious telling-off from Onana for a hospital pass into midfield that put Christian Eriksen in trouble. He doesn’t look any closer to dislodging Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez at centre-back and he has a big decision to make about his future.

Donny van de Beek

It’s been a strange trip for Van de Beek. He scored in the last friendly in the UK before the tour but in the first game in the U.S. against Arsenal, he was left out completely. Then, against Real Madrid, Ten Hag preferred 18-year-old Mainoo in his team and it wasn’t until a second-string team was picked against Dortmund that he got a start, although he did register two assists against the Bundesliga side.

The problem for Van de Beek is that, even with Fred not part of the squad in America, he still found opportunities hard to come by. United are willing to listen to offers for the Dutchman, and it’s evident he will have to leave if he wants to play regularly.

Brandon Williams

The left-back only got a chance on tour because Tyrell Malacia was ruled out through injury before the plane left Manchester, and it’s unlikely that he’s done enough in America to make Ten Hag think he’s a viable option next season. He’s got a habit of making rash challenges and got caught out for Borussia Dortmund’s first goal during the 3-2 defeat in Las Vegas.

The 22-year-old still has a year and a 12-month option left on the contract he signed in April 2020, but the evidence suggests he will need to leave if he wants to play regular football. He’s not getting past Luke Shaw and Malacia to get in the team at left-back.

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