Paul Scholes wants Manchester United to turn pre-season promise into action by putting down a marker against Chelsea.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men return to competitive action on Sunday for the first time since a tumultuous 2018-19 campaign came to a dire conclusion.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are the visitors to Old Trafford, where United will be hoping to win over disenchanted fans with an positive performance and result.
The signs have been good on the field during an unbeaten pre-season campaign and club great Scholes hopes former team-mate Solskjaer can get his team to hit the ground running.
“You can see he wants energy in his team,” Scholes told PA. “Young, quick players to come through.
“In pre-season the signs are promising but you just don’t know until it all kicks off and it’s a tough game to start with.
“But it’s a chance to put a marker down for them, they’ve got some exciting players with Marcus (Rashford), Daniel James, (Aaron) Wan-Bissaka looks to have settled in really well, (Harry) Maguire has still got a bit of time to settle in.
“I think there’s signs of promise. Liverpool and (Manchester) City set the benchmark and they have to try and get closer to that.”
It looks hard to challenge the winners of the Champions League and Premier League this season, especially given there are still areas to strengthen.
United’s defence has improved markedly over the summer and James looks an exciting attacking prospect, but Solskjaer is understood to have also wanted a right winger and another midfielder.
Many fans have expressed their anger at the lack of midfield reinforcements, but Scholes believes things could work, especially if Paul Pogba retains his focus.
“I think it could be OK,” he said. “(Nemanja) Matic is a little bit older now, but (Scott) McTominay has impressed me in pre-season, he’s come on.
“He can play that holding midfield role, he’s got energy about him and might chip in with a few goals.
“With Paul next to him, as long as his head is right, we know what a player Paul can be, what a talent he is.
“There’s others as well, can we get the best out of Fred that we saw at his previous club? (Andreas) Pereira has been impressive on tour.
“He’s got options, with a bit of luck I think they’ll be OK.”
Scholes was speaking as TalkTalk celebrated a new five-year partnership with Salford City, with fellow part-owners Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Phil Neville also in attendance.
The latter, like Scholes, has been impressed by the “shape and structure” in place at United after an 18-month period in which an identity was not that clear.
Phil Neville still does not think United are at the level yet to compete after watching City and Liverpool face off in the Community Shield, but he does believe things are going the right way.
“At least you know what he’s going to try and do,” the England women’s team manager said. “You know, if he’s going to go youth and high pressing, 80,000 people in the stadium know that and can get behind it.
“If we’re going to return back to those values that made the previous United teams great at least there are some values and philosophy and people can say ‘this is what we’re going to do’.
“We personally want Ole to do well. He was our team-mate, he’s our friend and the club needs stability, so I’m desperate for him to do well.”