Four things we're learning on United’s tour

Posted by Mark Payne

Manchester United have one game remaining on the Asian part of their preseason tour (Monday vs. Kitchee in Hong Kong), then head to Stockholm to wrap up the tour Aug. 6 against AIK. A look at the squad through the first four games of the tour:

Wingers

Manchester United's 2-2 draw against Cerezo Osaka on Friday contained elements to exasperate and encourage fans in equal measure. Despite a pretty average result, there is evidence that new manager David Moyes is set on using the flanks as much as possible in the coming season.

-Scholes encourages Rooney to stay
-Ferdinand backs Zaha for top

As has been the case in the past, United's future looks as if it will be based on the trickery of wing play. By far the most encouraging performer on United’s travels has been new boy Wilfried Zaha. With time ticking down, Zaha kept his composure to earn United a draw and score his first goal for the club in the process.

After heartening displays in Bangkok and Sydney, this goal can only give Zaha confidence. "I have dreamed about that moment. I just wanted to score for Manchester United, and I finally did it."

With Adnan Januzaj also impressing, and Ashley Young still to return, United have plenty of players to help Nani ping in crosses from the by-line and nutmeg defenders on the run.

Dribbling will make a big comeback at Old Trafford this season.

Defence

Moyes admitted Friday that he remains unsure about the best 11 to field and is still getting to know the players. “I don't have a starting XI for the Swansea game [Aug. 17] formulated in my head yet.”

Moyes will do well to note the dreadful error Sir Alex Ferguson made last year in not choosing a full-time goalkeeper until the season was several months old.

The early goal United conceded against Osaka indicated that the defence is not yet settled, and, with the toughest opening program the club has ever faced looming, that is a problem which needs addressing immediately.

“We still have three games in Europe before the season starts,” Moyes said Friday. It would make a lot of sense to pick a back five and stick with it for those three fixtures.

Corporate machine

United's worldwide branding campaign is slicker than ever. Although it is easy to question the wisdom of these trips from the perspective of how the traveling affects the players, the club's global appeal cannot be denied.

United sold out stadiums in four countries on three continents during this tour. Shinji Kagawa was cheered like a returning king every time he touched the ball in Japan. Tickets for United’s game in Australia sold out within three hours a year before the fixture.

The group of railwaymen who began the club in the 19th century can’t have had any idea of what they were starting. It is breathtaking to witness the effect the team has on the places it visits.

Transfer policy more open than ever

This must rank as one of the most publicised preseason tours United have taken. Nonetheless, as much as events on the field made news, United’s activity in the transfer market certainly has been their equal.

It is hard to remember a summer in which United have so openly courted so many big names. It seems fair to assume the new personnel in the boardroom are keen on getting their names attached to a marquee signing as soon as possible.

That is understandable, but if United buy anybody, it should be only for the benefit of the team, not new CEO Ed Woodward's ego.

Follow Mark on Twitter @markjpayne

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