Monday 23 July 2018

Understrength tour far from ideal preparation for 2018-19

I know its only pre-season, I know the results of these friendlies don't matter, and as fans its great to see the next generation of our club's youth prospects being given a chance to show what they can do. In United's two US tour games so far, it's been great to see the likes of Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood, Demetri Mitchell, James Garner and Andreas Pereira get run outs. For a club that prides itself on bringing through homegrown young talent, it's heart warming to see. But with so many first team players missing due to the World Cup, to have such a weakened and under-strength United side offers far from ideal preparation for the start of the new season which begins for us on 10th August. By the time 2018-19 rolls around, the senior players that will prove our key men are in danger of being undercooked and someway short of the fitness levels required. It's a delicate balance: they need a break and a breather like everyone else but also need to be playing and building match sharpness.

We shouldn't be reading too much into the two draws on Tour so far - the 1-1 with Club America and the goalless stalemate with San Jose in game two. After all, in 2015-16 we won every game in pre-season in swashbuckling style to hint at brighter things to come under Louis van Gaal. The Reds 3-5-2 formation was the talk of the town - but things fell flat and the Dutchman would be gone less than a year later. So it stands to reason that we shouldn't be too concerned by an underwhelming tour so far this time around as the team that runs out at Old Trafford for that curtain raiser with Leicester in 18 days time will be very different from the one that stuttered to a 0-0 draw against a lowly MLS side last night in the 30 degree heat of Santa Clara. There was little rhythm, pattern or tempo to United's play, but - missing Messrs Lukaku, Lingard, Fellaini, Rashford, Young, Fred, Matic, De Gea and Pogba to name but nine - is that really any surprise? Travelling Stateside with a jumbled mish-mash of fringe players, reserve/youth players and players that should be nowhere near Manchester United, there was always a risk that things would look equally as ragtag and incohesive. That's definitely showing to be the case.
  I don't care about the results, but the one thing I'm worried about with this pre-season is that with the World Cup, the lack of transfer business, with the way we are as a club at present, are we learning anything and getting in the best possible shape we can be ahead of the season. There's no signs of improvement so far, Jose does not seemed to have worked things out or tried anything different. We've known that this would be the case but nonetheless it's still frustrating and a bit worrying. Although the results are insignificant, you want to be looking for positive signs but there has been little to go on in the first two run outs. It's all been very underwhelming so far.

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