The LA Galaxy (Open Cup), Portland Timbers (MLS), Houston Dynamo (MLS), Club America (ICC), and the LA Galaxy again (MLS), have all enjoyed straight forward wins against Manchester United's next pre-season opponents the San Jose Earthquakes, in that order. Earthquakes they may be but the California based side have not shaken any ground with wretched form over their last 5 games in all competitions.
In effect therefore, and regardless of the fitness levels of the Major League Soccer side, United might be taking a step down in level of opposition for their next fixture in the International Champions Cup. The popular understanding is that pre-season is supposed to be built gradually upwards in terms of level of opposition but it seems United will have to jump from mid-table MLS level to European top dogs when Barcelona come calling on Saturday lunchtime (local time).
Certainly a side that can still make Stevie Slip look like a world beater should struggle to come to terms with dealing with what United will throw at them in a couple of days. Perhaps it's just as well for them that Louis van Gaal intends to employ the same disruptive strategy of 45 minutes per player in the club's second pre-season game. Lest we forget, it is the manager's ultimate task to get all his players in peak physical shape ahead of the new season. With just two games left after this, it is understandable why, regardless of the effect of an overhaul of XI players does to a team, it is necessary.
Having largely impressed in the opening tour fixture win over Club America, Louis van Gaal's new look side will come under the microscope again from the media and fans alike, if only, to get a sharper perspective of where this United team are in terms of taking on the challenge to win their trophy back from West London.
If we are to consider the opening fixture on Friday/Saturday morning and the word coming out of the training camp from players and manager, we'd still be unsure whether the use of Memphis Depay as a decoy forward alongside Wayne Rooney is part of the manager's long-term thinking. Certainly, the much talked about 4-3-3 hardly took shape in either half against Club America and yet we're expected to line-up against Spurs on August 8th in a 4-3-3.
Louis has briefed the media that he intends for Wayne Rooney to be the main man upfront for United next season and yet even the England captains most ardent defenders are not sure whether it would be wise to head into the season with just him leading the line. At the moment, United are having to rely on the midfield for goals as much as anything. Little wonder then that a lot of the chances to score at the weekend fell to midfielders with just the one apiece falling to Wayne Rooney and James Wilson. The point here is that it remains to be seen how the manager intends to set-up the side attacking-wise for the long term. Maybe we'll get another clue on Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning.
Unusually, we did not sustain any new injuries from the opening game, but true to tradition we went into that game with a couple of injuries to David De Gea and Tony Valencia. Luke Shaw has briefed the media about his Dubai training regime with Adnan Januzaj to boost their fitness levels ahead of the new campaign. For the 2 teenagers, it's hard to see what their future at the club will be like if they do not cement themselves into the manager's thinking this season.
The pressure to deliver the first trophy in the post-Sir Alex era is increasingly taking its toll on the playing staff at United. There are only so many chances you can give a player to make it at the club nowadays. It's not a careless choice of words that Robin van Persie for instance feels the chance to get back in the team was denied to him or that Radamel Falcao feels that the patience was never really there (even though it was). After effectively sacking Victor Valdez over the microphones, van Gaal joking (but truthfully) explained that even his job was not safe in the current climate of 'top-sport'. The growing list of sponsorship and the demand to keep the brand as successful on the pitch as it was during the Ferguson regime is slowly sucking the club into a panic the longer that title post Sir Alex stays away. You would imagine therefore that there shall be less patience with players more than ever at United given that the club i no longer blessed with a manager of the job security as the great Scot.
This though, was supposed to be about the training exercise against San Jose Earthquakes tomorrow. Let's get them goals raining shall we?
Labels: LUKE SHAW, PRE-SEASON