Reds face up to early season disruption



Sir Alex Ferguson could face a challenging start to the new season, with Euro 2012, injury, and the Olympics disrupting Manchester United’s preparations ahead of the Premier League’s start on 18 August. Seven United players will miss the Reds’ pre-season tour of South Africa, China and Norway after appearing in the Euro 2012 tournament this summer. Meanwhile, four Reds are set to appear in the Olympics, with the gold medal match scheduled to take place in London just a week before the new season kicks off. It could leave Ferguson without a dozen players during United’s pre-season programme.

United’s Euro 2012 players – Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck, Patrice Evra, Nani and Anders Lindegaard – will not travel with the touring party after being given extra time to recover this summer. None will miss the big kick-off, injury permitting, but neither will the group benefit from the pre-season matches required to be match fit for the start of the new campaign. The group will each return to training late, although Rooney played just twice at the tournament, Evra once, while Jones and Lindegaard spent Euro 2012 on the bench.

United began pre-season training on Monday 2 July, with Sir Alex’ side taking on Amazulu FC in Durban on 18 July, followed by matches with Ajax Cape Town in Cape Town three days later. United’s tour moves on to China, where Ferguson’s side meets Didier Drogba’s Shanghai Shenua, followed by a fixtures with Valerenga in Oslo, and Barcelona at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg. The lengthy and five country summer tour concludes with a match against Hannover 96 at the AWD Arena on 11 August.

Adding to Ferguson’s early season challenges, it appears likely that four players will also take part at the Olympics. Fixtures in the under-23 tournament are spread across the UK, with the football tournament starting on 25 July and concluding just a week before the new Premier League season finishes on 11 August in London.

David de Gea is included in Spain’s strong Olympics squad, with La Roja’s juniors one of the tournament favourites. The provisional Spanish squad also includes Juan Mata, Javier Martinez, and Jordi Alba, each of whom appeared at Euro 2012 this summer. Luis Milla’s young Spaniards are heavily based on the squad that secured the European U-21 championship last summer.

Challenging Spain for the tag of tournament favourite is Brazil, with coach Mano Menezes including Rafael da Silva in his provisional 35-man squad. The 50-year-old manager will cut his squad to 18 players by 6 July, and Rafael’s is not guaranteed. Brother Fabio, who this week joined Queens Park Rangers on loan for the 2012/13 season, is not included in Menezes’ tournament party.

Anderson, who played in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is not included after losing his place in the Brazilian side, while the 24-year-old only qualifies as an over-age player.

Meanwhile, in the British Olympic squad Ryan Giggs and Tom Cleverley have been included by coach Stuart Pearce. Giggs’ inclusion had been long expected, adding an experienced bent to a young Anglo-Welsh squad. No Scots or Northern Irish players are included in Pearce’s squad.

Giggs is signed up to another campaign at Old Trafford, but will now miss pre-season to be part of Pearce’s squad, with the British taking on Senegal at Old Trafford in Britain’s first Olympic football fixture since 1960. Team GB play the United Arab Emirates at Wembley before the final Group A game against Uruguay in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on 1 August.

While Ferguson encourage Giggs’ participation, with the 38-year-old Welshman having missed out on tournament football with Wales, the United manager blocked all other over-age players taking part, including Rio Ferdinand, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick. Chris Smalling misses out with the thigh injury that ended his hopes of being included in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 party.

Cleverley’s inclusion is a mixed blessing though, with the 22-year-old having missed much of 2011/12 with a recurrent ankle injury. While Cleverley could play in at least three matches during United’s pre-season period, he will not join United’s touring party at any point. Cleverley, though, says he is taking part with Ferguson’s approval.

“Throughout my career I want to experience many things,” said Cleverley. “The Olympics would be a fantastic part of it. I’m buzzing about it. I cannot wait. It is a great way for me to bounce back after the disappointment of not going to the Euros with England.

“It’s a young squad, apart from the older-age players, and after England’s Euro 2012 experience a lot of people are talking about putting the accent on youth. This is a chance for me to remind people early. They’ve put trust in us and I want to repay that faith.”

“I need to hit the ground running for the new season and this is a great chance for me. The manager was happy for me that I was shortlisted and had no problems about me being in the Olympics. I will miss United’s pre-season tour and, ideally, I would have liked to do both. But after my injury spell out last season, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick were doing so well I didn’t get much game time. So I need minutes on the pitch and I feel that playing in high-stake competitive matches like I’ll get at the Olympics is right for me.”

Elsewhere Ferguson has ensured that Javier Hernandez is not included in Mexico’s squad, despite suggestions that the 24-year-old could be his country’s flag-bearer at the Games. Meanwhile, new signing Shinji Kagawa will not be part of Japan’s squad for the three-week long tournament.

Add injuries to captain Nemanja Vidić, and Fletcher into the mix, and Ferguson faces up to United’s pre-season programme without a dozen players. It’s a disruptive element that will ensure some younger faces in the Reds’ touring party this summer.

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Comments

  1. I think Fergie will include a lot of reserve team players for the tour matches. The likes of Petrucci, Tunnicliffe, Cole and Lingard will be given some time on the pitch. My bet is Fergie doesn’t buy a midfielder this summer and promotes Petrucci/Tunnicliffe to the first team. Frankly, I have not seen the reserve team players in action that much, but doubt if any of them are ready for the first team.

    • I pretty sure Adan Januzag has already said he is going on the tour which would be a great experience for the very talented youngster (born in 1995!)

  2. Spudiator Spudiator says:

    To be fair, if they don’t get a chance in the first team, they will NEVER be ready. For all this talk about needing to buy a midfielder, I would actually prefer one of our youngsters given a chance to prove themselves as long as they get a proper chance, not just fleeting substitute appearances and league cup matches.

  3. I hope they give RT a chance, got the eye of the tiger about him, a presence. Petrucci is more in the Kagawa, Powell mold but hopefully will get some time on tour.

  4. Minus The Bear says:

    Scholes rates Tunnicliffe, strikes me as a player who isn’t going to pussy foot around challenging players which is a definite plus. The downside is he’ll pick up some cards and get called the next Lee Cattermole…

  5. Neville rates him too.

  6. Minus The Bear says:

    There is going to have to be loads of youngsters, because:

    First Team:
    GK:
    Anders Lindegaard
    Amos (might be off to Hull on loan)

    Defenders:
    Ferdinand
    Evans
    Smalling (although potentially still injured)

    Midfielders:
    Valencia
    Anderson (although again still probably injured)
    Park
    Carrick
    Scholes
    Powell
    Kagawa

    Forwards:
    Berbatov (unless he gets sold)
    Hernandez
    Macheda
    Bebe (?!)

  7. Between Euro 2012, the Olympics, Euro U19 champs & injuries we really are going to have a depleted squad.

    Possibilities to add to the list above:

    Def

    Brown R
    McGinty
    Blackett
    Wooton
    Vermijl

    Mid

    Tunnicliffe
    Petrucci
    Brady (winger)
    Cole (winger)

    Att

    Lingard
    King

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