Manchester United player their third pre-season friendly of the summer against newly promoted Premier League side Brentford at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
The clash ended as a 2-2 draw after the recent defeat to QPR and victory over Derby as United work towards the opening game of the Premier League season against Leeds on 14 August.
Here’s a look at a few takeaways from the match…
The easing of coronavirus restrictions meant that 10,000 fans were allowed to attend the final home game of last season against Fulham, only a fraction of full capacity.
But Old Trafford looked a little more normal on Wednesday night as 30,000 eager fans watched the game live, the highest attendance figure since March 2020.
Since fans have been absent there have a number of changes and upgrades to Old Trafford, with new safe standing rail seating installed, new LED floodlights, a freshly re-laid pitch.
Following major criticism for years of underinvestment on the stadium, on social media it was even observed that the outside of Old Trafford looks like it has had a lick of paint as well.
Teenage winger Anthony Elanga broke into the first-team at the back end of last season, starting and scoring against Wolves on the final day, and is staking a genuine claim to remain in the fold. That is despite an earlier expectation that he would end up going out on loan.
The 19-year-old scored in the previous friendly against QPR and was again on the scoresheet against Brentford, putting United ahead early with a fine volley.
There is going to be stiff competition for places from Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani, Daniel James and fellow youngster Amad Diallo, but Solskjaer said after the game Elanga that is giving him a ‘great problem’.
“Players who score goals and have that enthusiasm and energy…we want to play a pressing game and there are no frills [with him]. If they give you reasons to like them and they give you reasons to play them, then you’ll have to play them,” Solskjaer explained, via ManUtd.com.
It won’t ultimately make him any more likely to command a first-team place after struggling last season on loan at Lazio, but Andreas Pereira marked his first appearance at Old Trafford since August 2020 with a thunderous volley that would be an automatic shoo-in for goal of the season had it been scored in a competitive game.
It was a nice moment for the Brazilian and underlined his ability to pull off the spectacular. He will, however, remain surplus to requirements unless anything drastically changes.
United could only draw the game, but Solskjaer said he was pleased with the attacking performance and there is still plenty of room to grow and improve.
“I enjoyed the first half especially,” the boss explained, via ManUtd.com. “I thought we played some good combination play, we played through the lines. Of course, [Brentford] defended well inside their box but I thought some of the football was magnificent.
“It was a good goal by them as well, that hit by the way, but they didn’t have a lot else. I was very pleased with the first half. The second half was a bit more messy as it always will be in pre-season with loads of changes but it was a big step forward I felt.”
United are still without most of their usual starters and, of the 18 players used over the 90 minutes, perhaps only Mason Greenwood and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be in the lineup come the opening day of the Premier League season in a couple of weeks’ time.