If the bluster from the Bosphorus is to be believed, Marouane Fellaini is about to become a Galatasaray player. The Turkish club’s sporting director has claimed that the Belgian was on his way out of Old Trafford and could soon be in Istanbul - and the soon-to-be announced arrival of Nemanja Matic would appear to back his comments up.
Do not be so sure. Fellaini was named in the starting XI for United’s latest friendly - and with just two to come before the real action starts that is not the sign of an outcast on the brink of an exit.
Neither was his 45-minute cameo. Once again, the former Everton man proved that sometimes having a big bloke on the field who gets into dangerous positions and who can head a ball is actually a valuable asset – regardless of whether he looks like ‘a Manchester United player’.
After a bright start against admittedly limited opponents, Jose Mourinho’s men faded and looked to be heading into the break goalless. How many times did we say that last season?
Then, Henrikh Mkhitaryan found space on the right, pinged over an inviting cross towards the unmistakable afro of Fellaini and a split second later it was in the net, albeit via a defender’s shoulder.
Yes, this was a pre-season friendly against what is currently Norway’s seventh best club, but Fellaini’s impact will not have gone unnoticed.
Speaking of big men who can head a ball, neither will that of Romelu Lukaku, who has hit the ground running since his £75m arrival from Everton.
Here, it took him a minute after coming off the bench to score, rising tallest to head in a corner from fellow substitute Andreas Pereira.
The pair were two of nine changes made by Mourinho at the break. Only goalkeeper Sergio Romero and Paul Pogba remained on the field and both were removed on the hour.
In another vibrant display, Pogba hit a post with a curling effort from distance, something he often does. The world’s most expensive footballer (for now) looks energised after a summer break and it is safe to say that great things are expected from him this time around.
His replacement, young Scott McTominay, also impressed and made it 3-0 with his first senior goal when he seized on a defensive error to curl a fine shot into the far corner to delight the crowd.
They are United crazy in this part of the world. Almost one per cent of Norway’s population of 5,000,000 is a member of the official supporters club. This was their heroes’ first visit since a 2012 0-0 draw and they will have enjoyed it.
Amid the positives, one slight area of concern. Kitmakers Adidas will say that United’s jerseys are made of a super lightweight material. Try telling that to Victor Lindelof. The 23-year-old appears burdened by the weight of the shirt, not to mention the £31m fee Mourinho paid to bring him to the club from Benfica.
Slow starts have been the hallmark of some of United’s greatest defenders from yesteryear, but the Swede’s selection on the bench behind Phil Jones and Eric Bailly may hint at the work that lies ahead of him.
Lindelof entered the fray following half-time to play on the right as United switched to a back three, which looked shakier than the four that had gone before them.
Indeed, the highly rated Ghayas Zahid could and should have pulled one back for the hosts when a basic cross wreaked havoc at the heart of the visitors’ defence.
From here, United head to Dublin to take on Sampdoria before a trip to Macedonia, for the UEFA Super Cup with Real Madrid. Then the real action, and what promises to be an interesting season, awaits.