Pre-season tours of Manchester United used to involve players having to be present for various sponsorship activities, a lot of media obligations as well as training and matches. However, this particular pre-season is quite different with fans noticing the lack of off-field activities players are involved in with most social media updates from players being mainly about on-field tasks.
And ESPN have mentioned how Erik ten Hag has shaped the way he wants the club and the players to operate during the tour. That involves having the final say when it comes to what the players are up to outside of training.
The report mentions the Dutchman having refused requests with regards to players having to do media work prior to training sessions. Photo opportunities were not granted with players sticking to their routine of travelling only from their hotel to the training venue with little time for anything else.
— Daily Star Sport (@DailyStar_Sport) July 12, 2022
In a press conference, Marcus Rashford was asked about whether the players would be sight-seeing in Australia to which he had laughed off the suggestion and pointed to the coach sitting beside him and stating only if Ten Hag gives the green light. That has obviously not been forthcoming.
“An idea was floated to film players on the set of the Australian soap opera ‘Neighbours’, just outside Melbourne, but it was another no from Ten Hag,” the report stated. Commercial activities have been set at an all-time low with the coach insisting on getting the players ready for the season.
Players including Rashford, Scott McTominay, Fred and Luke Shaw have all commented on how tiring the new sessions get, how this is the most gruelling training they have done in pre-season, especially with so much focus being put on running.
Not all fun and games
Most days have double sessions planned — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — with training allocated even on match days.
Drills involve sharp passing and movement and in a bid to make the training as competitive as games, the Dutch coach has involved the use of forfeits for the losing team. And that has involved doing press-ups even with a crowd gathered to watch.
Players do not want to be seen losing in front of fans, meaning the training matches take on a ultra-competitive look. And Ten Hag is fully involved, stopping the session if he sees something he doesn’t like.
Big-name players or not, no one is spared if the coach finds anything amiss. Something Jadon Sancho found out to his detriment ahead of the Liverpool game.
But the former Ajax coach knows the value of recovery and team bonding and he has encouraged players to utilise the time available to relax. Recreational facilities for players include the likes of a table tennis, pool, bean bag chairs and a huge TV screen on one of the walls.
Players have had to process a lot of information since Ten Hag officially began work but they have all unanimously claimed that they have thoroughly enjoyed the intense sessions and feel fitter than they have felt before.
Fans are thrilled with the players’ admissions and there is hope that Ten Hag’s brutal methods will bear fruit as United begin their arduous climb back to the top.