Manchester United’s first pre-season game came 40 days after their defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup final.

In that time, manager Erik ten Hag has strengthened his central midfield and said goodbye to goalkeeper David de Gea after 12 years of service.

The club are expected to do more business in the transfer window, but much depends on the never-ending takeover process that was triggered when the Glazers announced they were looking to sell last November.

United are still to welcome back 15 internationals and it is understandable, therefore, that the team that secured a 2-0 victory over Leeds United in Oslo was a makeshift, experimental one.

However, there were still a number of interesting takeaways from the game in Norway…

Mount is an energetic roadrunner

Mason Mount made his first appearance in a United shirt yesterday and the 24-year-old was used as a No 8 in front of Kobbie Mainoo in Ten Hag’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

The England international’s energy was obvious from the off and in the 10th minute he won the ball off Jeremiah Mullen, before attempting to chip goalkeeper Kristoffer Klaesson from 30 yards.

Mount’s shot was off target, but his running and quick pressing are exactly the sort of things Ten Hag looks for in his midfielders.

Before the game, the United manager said: “I’m sure he will contribute to the success of Manchester United because he’s a quality player. He will bring dynamism to our game and that was one of our conclusions we made after last season — that we need more of that in the midfield.”

Mainoo impresses

Eight seconds into the game Mainoo hit a first-time pass from central midfield down the right to Amad, forcing Leeds to commit a foul. It was a sign of things to come as the 18-year-old was lively throughout his time on the pitch.

He impressed when playing on the half turn, something that was not always present in the Scott McTominay and Fred partnership of previous seasons. Mainoo was the deepest member of the midfield and received passes from Lisandro Martinez before moving the ball out of pockets of pressure. In a game where Ten Hag’s team dominated possession, Mainoo’s calmness on the ball helped keep Leeds at bay.

Mainoo on the ball in Oslo (Photo: Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

He is likely to be a backup to Mount in the No 8 role when the season begins, as opposed to being a successor to Casemiro, but the early signs are that he possesses enough talent to be moulded as Ten Hag wishes.

Martinez returns

A metatarsal fracture sustained in mid-April ended Martinez’s 2022-23 campaign and, without the Argentina centre-back, United were much poorer when building from the back.

It will have been a welcome sight for Ten Hag to see that the 25-year-old appears to have lost none of his aggression or cleverness in possession.

A centre-back partnership of Martinez and Raphael Varane is one of real quality and the duo will need to be at their best in the Champions League.

Heaton in goal

With De Gea gone and negotiations for Andre Onana continuing, Tom Heaton, 37, is the first-choice goalkeeper.

The former England international came out of his penalty area early on to impressively cut out a one-on-one chance for Leeds and he further highlighted that he was attempting to play like a modern goalkeeper by spending large periods of the game stood between the halfway line and his penalty box.

Heaton is highly unlikely to be in goal for the first game of the season, but nevertheless he will have an important role to play in Ten Hag’s squad over the campaign.

This is because the United manager is a strong believer in the importance of having three goalkeepers available (one for each training team at Carrington and another who can run extra drills on the side).

Heaton was in goal for the first half (Photo: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

The second half saw Heaton replaced by academy graduate Matej Kovar, 23, who has returned from a successful loan spell at Sparta Prague — making 32 appearances as they won the title in the Czech Republic.

Kovar was calm with the ball at his feet and did well enough to suggest that he could be of use at some point in the season.

When you also consider that Dean Henderson is making his way back from injury it becomes apparent that United have a number of dependable back-up options in goal.

Sancho used as a false nine in makeshift, but fluid attack

Anthony Martial’s precarious fitness situation left United without a recognised striker in Oslo. Ten Hag opted for Jadon Sancho as a false nine with Omari Forson, 18, on the left and Amad, 21, on the right.

Hannibal Mejbri, 20, operated as the No 10 in an attacking four that looked to exchange quick passes and run in behind the opposition defence.

Hannibal’s impressive stamina and competitive edge kept United’s attack from being rudderless — summed up when he tracked back 50 yards in the 18th minute to halt a dangerous Leeds attack.

Hannibal was lively against Leeds (Photo: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Another bright moment saw Amad dribble down the touchline before pulling back a pass for Hannibal. The Tunisian’s shot was easily blocked but the build-up was vibrant attacking play that will have pleased Ten Hag.

Until a new centre forward is purchased it is hard to predict how United will line up in attack at the start of the season, but the victory over Leeds once again highlighted Ten Hag’s inventive problem solving. If you cannot have one striker occupying centre-backs and taking the majority of attacks, field a bunch of nippy wingers and ask them to wreak havoc.

However, the need for a genuine No 9 was painfully apparent when Sancho fluffed a simple chance after being set-up by Hannibal.

It will take roughly 70 league goals for United to finish in the top four next season and it is likely that they will need a genuine striker to score at least 20 of those.

Varane given the armband

There is still uncertainty over who will captain United this season, with the under-pressure Harry Maguire still the skipper.

Frenchman Varane was captain for the first half in Oslo, before handing the armband to midfielder Charlie Savage, 20, for the second half following his substitution.

Ten Hag made clear after the game that the captaincy decision is his alone to make and that there will not be a dressing-room vote on the matter.

Ten Hag could keep Maguire in the role, or, given that the Englishman’s erratic form over the last few seasons means he is not guaranteed to start, the Dutchman could pass the armband to someone else — most likely Bruno Fernandes (who was captain for the majority of 2022-23) or World Cup-winner Varane.

Fernandez is an interesting variable this pre-season

Left-back Alvaro Fernandez, 20, is in a delicate position this summer. Luke Shaw has signed a new long-term contract and his deputy — Tyrell Malacia — while flawed, is still a capable backup.

So, if Fernandez is to be a United player come the end of the transfer window he will have to prove himself to be better suited to Ten Hag’s style of play than Brandon Williams (and maybe even Malacia) over the next few weeks.

Williams, who came on for the second half in Norway, attempted to invert into central positions like Fernandez, but clearly does not have as good an eye for a pass.

Fernandez’s height (6ft 1in; 1.86m) may come of use when United are defending set pieces.

Fernandez, on the ball, impressed at left-back (Photo: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Consider Fernandez a player of interest this pre-season. He could well force his way into the first-team squad if he can string together impressive performances.

Eleven half-time changes and a 2-0 victory

United’s first goal will have pleased a number of the 25,816 spectators at the Ullevaal Stadion, with Norwegian attacker Isak Hansen-Aaroen, 18, threading the ball forward for 20-year-old Noam Emeran to score with a first-time finish.

Joe Hugill, 19, scored the second by beating the offside trap to tuck away a cross from Emeran.

Ten Hag made 11 changes at half-time which caused United to lose some of their shape and intensity, but overall this trip to Oslo and the victory have proven to be nice preludes to the upcoming tour of the U.S.

There will be stronger challenges to come, but Ten Hag has things ticking along nicely for now.

(Top photo: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)