Erik ten Hag has insisted Manchester United’s two pre-season games have not given him a clear indication as to who is part of his strongest-choice XI.
The Red Devils have beaten Liverpool and Melbourne Victory in their two warm-up games, with the two matches following a similar pattern in terms of team selection.
United began the games with what appeared to be a first-choice XI, with eight players - Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Fred, Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial - starting in the double header.
However, half-time saw Ten Hag make 10 outfield switches against Liverpool and Melbourne, with Eric Bailly, Alex Telles and Donny van de Beek among those introduced at the break in both matches.
It’s for that reason many feel Ten Hag is starting to get an idea of what his best XI is, even if there have been injury issues surrounding David de Gea, Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane; Cristiano Ronaldo remains absent, and Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen haven’t met up with the group yet.
But speaking in a recent interview, the Dutchman said he hasn’t settled on one strongest team and is keen to assess the whole squad.
“No, I don’t think you can talk about [the] starting XI players,” Ten Hag told the club’s website.
“I think we need a squad. This is a season with even more games than ever, by the World Cup. You need depth in the squad, so we need more than 11 starting players and we are working on that.”
The 52-year-old was also asked if his team selections so far this summer have been based around fitness, and responded: “It is. You want to get in a way of playing and that is a long way, to get that in.
“You will not train it in, say, four, five, six weeks like a pre-season. Therefore you need also the games in the league, on 7 August [the opening weekend of the season] we need a platform where we can get a result out. That’s is what we’re working for, but from that point on we also have to keep developing the team.”