Everything you wanted to know about pre-season

July 19, 2014 Tags: , Reads 22 comments
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Louis van Gaal’s 25-man Manchester United squad set flight for California on Friday ahead of a three-week pre-season tour of the United States – a regular summer fixture with so many stateside with sponsors to please. Games follow against LA Galaxy, AS Roma, Internazionale and Real Madrid before the Reds return home for the Premier League kick off in August.

It is a summer tour of marked contrast to the 2013 variant in Asia-Pac. High quality opposition, a van Gaal-led training camp, and some fresh faces to boot – there are many grounds on which to feel optimistic that the coming weeks will set United fair for the season ahead. Not least because whatever faults remain in United’s squad – and there are many still as yet uncorrected – none will be exacerbated by David Moyes.

Where Moyes was star-struck on United’s pre-season tour in 2013, van Gaal waltzed into Old Trafford on Thursday every bit a United manager. Arrogance, confidence, an unbreakable worldview – call it what you want – but Reds man, woman and child, know a United manager when they see one. Whisper it quietly, but there is just a touch of Sir Alex Ferguson in United’s new Dutchman.

There will be plenty of analysis of the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager to come. For now he has just shy of a month to get his squad into shape for the season ahead – and just two further weeks to seal any additions to a squad that is short an experienced central defender, high-quality box-to-box midfielder and goal-scoring winger.

van Gaal is taking a strong squad to the States, with the English World Cup contingent all making the trip west. Robin van Persie, Marouane Fellaini, and Adnan Januzaj have been given a post World Cup break, while Javier Hernández joins part way though.

New signings Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera are also in van Gaal’s travelling party, while youngsters Tyler Blackett, Michael Keane, Reece James and Will Keane travel. James Wilson, who scored on début towards the end of last season, will be disappointed to have been left at home.

van Gaal’s side is competing in the eight team ‘International Champions Cup’, with the participants divided in two groups of four, and the group winners set to meet at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami on 4 August.

Tour squad: De Gea, Lindegaard, Amos, Johnstone, Rafael, Evans, Smalling, Jones, Shaw, Blackett, M Keane, James, Herrera, Cleverley, Fletcher, Young, Zaha, Kagawa, Mata, Valencia, Nani, Lingard, Welbeck, Rooney, W Keane.

Manchester United v LA Galaxy – Rose Bowl, Pasadena – 24 July, 4.06 am
Beckham’s former club has enjoyed a mixed start to the MLS campaign, although is now unbeaten in seven games – the prelude, perhaps, to a strong second half of the season. Third in the Western Conference, behind runaway leaders Seattle Sounders, Bruce Arena’s side is still in the hunt for a ninth MLS title overall. The side contains some familiar names in Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Robbie Rogers, although Omar Gonzalez alone made the US national squad that reached the World Cup round of 16 in Brazil.

Usually based at the 30,00 capacity StubHub Center in Carson, the fixture against United will be played at the 92,000 Rose Bowl, below, 25 miles away in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl is home to the UCLA American Football team, but also staged the 1994 World Cup final, where Roberto Bagio missed a crucial penalty in the shoot-out to hand Brazil the trophy. In 1984 more than 101,000 people saw the France beat Brazil 2-0 in the Olympic Gold Medal match.

United will hold an open training session at the venue on Tuesday, July 22 at 7pm local time.

Rose Bowl Pasedena

Manchester United v AS Roma – Sports Authority Field, Denver – 26 July, 9.06pm
Roma finished second to Juventus in the 2013/14 Serie A season, although some 17 points adrift. Former Lille manager Rudi García was a surprise choice for the Head Coach role when appointed in June 2013, but won over many doubters as the Giallorossi stormed to 10 Serie A victories in a row at the start of the campaign. Roma failed to maintain that form, but secured Champions League football with some comfort. Mehdi Benatia, Miralem Pjanic, Daniele De Rossi and Kevin Strootman are familiar names, while former England left-back Ashley Cole joined during earlier this month.

The match will be played at the 76,000-capacity Sports Authority Field at Mile High – home to NFL team Denver Broncos. Opened in September 2001, the new venue was built adjacent to the original ‘Mile High Stadium’, with many fans – and even the Denver Post – refusing to name the stadium after the original sponsors Invesco. ‘Against Modern Football’ – whatever kind of football that might be.

United will also hold open training in Denver, with the session at Sport Authority Field on Friday, 25 July.

Sports Authority Field, Denver

Manchester United v Inter Milan – FedEx Field, Washington DC – 30 July, 12.30am
It was a disastrous season for the Milan clubs in 2013/14, although Inter at least qualified for the Europa League by finishing fifth in Serie A. Nerazzurri coach Walter Mazzarri kept his job despite the disappointing campaign, although the expectation is that he leads Inter back into the Champions League in the coming months. Former United defender Nemanja Vidić joined in June, alongside Frenchman Yann M’Vila, although it has been a low-key window to date. Rodrigo Palacio, Hernanes, and Fredy Guarín all featured in the World Cup.

FedEx Field played host to United in 2011, with the Reds beating Barcelona 2-1 in front of 81,807 fans. Usually home to NFL’s Washington Redskins, the stadium can hold more than 85,000 fans, although it is not universally popular with supporters – not least because the stadium is 15 miles from downtown Washington.

FedEx Field

Manchester United v Real Madrid – Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor – 2 August, 9.06pm
Los Merengues failed to capture La Liga in 2013/14 after coming in third behind champions Atlético Madrid and rivals Barcelona. While the league performance hurt, Carlo Ancelotti kept his job after Real captured the Champions League for a record 10th time. Many of the Real squad went to the World Cup, although few will be welcomed ‘home’ with as much excitement as world champion Toni Kroos. The German joined Real last week for around £20 million – surely the bargain of the summer.

United’s final game of the summer tour – save for a potential final in Miami – will take place at ‘The Big House’, Ann Arbor’s Michigan Stadium. The 109,000 capacity venue is usually host to the University of Michigan American Football team, the Wolverines, and is the largest stadium in the United States – the third largest non-racing stadium in the world.

Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor

Manchester United v Valencia CF – Old Trafford – 12 August, 7.30pm
United completes pre-season against Valencia at Old Trafford. Los Che arrives in Manchester with a new manager in Nuno Espirito Santo after a period of turmoil at Valencia. Years of financial trouble, necessitating repeated sales of leading players in order to balance the books, may be over with Peter Lim taking control in May. The Singaporean bought up more than 70 per cent of Valencia from the club’s foundation – a move that fans hope brings a period of stability and, after a long wait, a new stadium too.

* all times BST


Salman Haider - July 20, 2014 Reply

In this piece, you mention in the LA Galaxy section that no players made it into the US national squad for this World Cup.

Salman Haider - July 20, 2014 Reply

How about Omar Gonzalez, the LA Galaxy defender? He was included, and played in the US team in the World Cup.

Salman Haider - July 20, 2014 Reply

Just wanted to point it out. I believe he played in all except one of the US games in the World Cup? Did quite well for them.

the real deal - July 20, 2014 Reply

I read with interest your comments in reference to van Gaal looking all the part of a United manager, but I feel that at the age of 62, he has come to Old Trafford a little to late. Time is not on his side for the things he would like to do, but he has my total respect.
He will need time and I hope the fans will be patient but if it becomes obvious during the season that we will not make the top 4 again, than van Gaal will be fired, simple as that.

mongoletsi - July 20, 2014 Reply

Agreed but it looks like the plan is Van Gaal for 4 or 5 years then Giggs…

MS Assefa - July 22, 2014 Reply

Or rather afew years of progress under LvG and then we will be taken miles backward, AGAIN, by another undeserved xenophobic managerial appointment. I just hope Giggs has the decency to first go out of United and prove his managerial capabilities before he is given the job he does not deserve and is hugely unqualified for. But it looks the club and many a United fan seem to want a Moyes episode 2.

Leonard - July 20, 2014 Reply

Hoping good things from ur new manager

Mark Ferguson - July 20, 2014 Reply

Good write up. Spotted a typo: “García was perhaps a surprise choice for the Head Coach roach when…” Sorry to be the pedant!

Ed - July 20, 2014 Reply

Why do pedants always pretend to be sorry. Admit that it makes your empty and meaningless lives just a little more bearable!

mongoletsi - July 20, 2014 Reply

You say the sweetest things Ed x

Subterranean Steve - July 20, 2014 Reply

Nothing to do with pedantry just idle curiosity.

I acknowledge that the ‘v’ in van Gaal is not a capital ‘v’, Louis van Gaal being the correct spelling. However, should the ‘v’ in van be capitalised when it’s the first word of a sentence?

Only asking cos the cricket’s a bit slow.

Subterranean Steve - July 20, 2014 Reply

By the way Ed, if I were a pedant, I would not incorrectly use the word ‘spelling’.

Ed - July 22, 2014

It’s an interesting debate. There is conflicting advice on the internet on the use of ‘proper names,’ which are typically capitalised in the English language. That said I’m happy with my use because it’s his name.

Manchester United PH - July 20, 2014 Reply

do you know why Wilson was left out? I felt bad that he was.

Manchester United PH - July 20, 2014 Reply

Wilson was the 1 youngster I was hoping to see on the tour squad.

Niv Dror - July 20, 2014 Reply

going to Galaxy game, do you know any of the LA agenda/where the trainings are held?

jools - July 20, 2014 Reply

“van Gaal is taking a strong squad to the States, with the English World Cup contingent – bar an injured Michael Carrick”

Carrick wasn’t a part of England’s World Cup contingent.

And before Ed gets sees his arse – that wasn’t a pedantic comment. Just a single correction of one of the many mistakes littering the piece. It read like a Paul Hayward written Fergie autobiography.

You’re not getting an apology either.

Ed - July 22, 2014 Reply

jools – yes very good, but I’d be more impressed if “And before Ed gets sees his arse” made any sense. I prefer my pedants to have a better command of the English language than my 18 month old son.

Apology accepted.

Dayus D red - July 20, 2014 Reply

We all have good things to say about LVG and i hope long may it continue. However, i find it strange no one has seen the danger in him saying he will need 3-4wks to decide wether to bring in new players or stick with the ones he has now. 3-4wks take him right to the middle of Aug when the season would have started in most of the countries. I wonder if any good player or club will be sitting by the phone waiting for his call at that late hour when it will be near inpossible to find a replacement for such a player. Its either he is genuinely ok with the players at his disposal or there is no £200m to spend afterall. I hope this decision will not come to hunt him. I wish him the very best of luck. Am sure he will need it.

the real deal - July 21, 2014 Reply

Well I read today Ed Woodward’s press conference and he said that he will be spending big money, targets have been identified, more world-class players are coming in and a few players will be sold. He went on to say that the objective this season is to win the EPL and get back champions league football.

ForeverRed - July 21, 2014 Reply

Woodward has to be positive and say the right things in his position. Sadly though, years of neglect will take more that a season to rectify, even with a very good manager in charge. Just look at the experienced players we have lost, but not replaced in the last 2-3 seasons – G. Neville, Scholes, Giggs, Ferdinand, Evra, Vidic.. To try an replace that list is something that should have been planned and executed over the same period of time (not to mention the addition of a dominant CM). To expect it to be fixed in 1 transfer window and us hit the ground running without a hitch is unrealistic to say the least. Top four would be success this season.

the real deal - July 22, 2014 Reply

I agree. If we do bring in a few more players, as arrogant as van Gaal is, I see at best a top 4 finish. Chelsea and Man. City are going to be hard to knock off the top. But with our early schedule the way it is, if we can get off to a flying start, anything is possible.

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