Erik ten Hag was far from happy with what he saw on the pitch in Manchester United’s defeat to Cadiz on Wednesday night – and his anger also spilled out onto the touchline with his opposite number at one stage. United got their warm-weather training camp up and running this evening in their first official match since the Premier League season temporarily ended for the World Cup.
The match against Cadiz was the first of two friendlies United have planned for their trip to Spain to get players back up to speed. With most of Ten Hag’s squad still competing in Qatar, or being given extra time off after being knocked out of the World Cup, the game against Cadiz was an opportunity for United’s fringe players to showcase their talents.
Cadiz are in La Liga’s relegation zone having scored a league-low nine goals in 14 matches. Ten Hag’s starting line-up included first-team players in Martin Dubravka, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek, Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial and Alejandro Garnacho.
But it was the Spanish minnows who got off to a quick start as both Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams were caught napping in the early stages. A Martial penalty had halved the deficit for United after the two quickfire goals from Cadiz, but frustrations were boiling over on the touchline.
Just before half-time, Ten Hag was spotted in a heated discussion with Cadiz boss Sergio on the sidelines. Sergio was seen wagging his finger at Ten Hag furiously with the fourth officials forced to intervene.
Ten Hag ended up walking away in a huff to return to his technical area, but he wouldn’t have been much happier with what he was seeing on the pitch. The United boss then rung the changes at half-time with every outfield player being swapped.
It was a chance for Ten Hag to see some of the club’s talented youth players in action such as Kobbie Mainoo, Shola Shoretire, Charlie Savage and Charlie McNeill. And Mainoo didn’t take long to make his mark, scoring just three minutes after the restart with a well-taken finish.
United’s youth stars continued to impress, but Cadiz soon regained their lead before rounding things off late on with the game finishing 4-2. It proved to be a testing affair for Ten Hag’s players with those on the fringes of the first-team squad failing to impress.
Much like pre-season friendlies, most of the focus will be on building up match fitness. But Ten Hag would have wanted to see more from his first-team regulars against a side who have only won two La Liga matches this season.