Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has set out his aims for the clubs preseason tour of Thailand, Australia and Norway stating the way he wants his team to play. Many players have been back in training for a fortnight, with some returning at the start of the week.
United left for Thailand earlier on Friday to ready themselves for the clash with Liverpool in Bangkok on Tuesday with the Dutchman naming a 31-man squad for the tour, which could increase before they head to Australia to face Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.
Obviously Cristiano Ronaldo is missing from the squad with other notable absentees such as Phil Jones, Brandon Williams, Andreas Pereira, Alvaro Fernandez, Shola Shoretire, Teden Mengi and Di’Shon Bernard – with various reasons mentioned for their absences.
The Dutch manager, 52, is focussed on getting the ground work started for the upcoming Premier League season, which starts in less than a month for United. Speaking to MUTV and reported by the official Manchester United website, Ten Hag said:
“I have to learn, to know my squad, the personnel, the individuals, the players. That is, I think, one of the biggest advantages from the tour.
“We have two weeks to work really close together and we will learn about each other because I want to learn about them and they want to learn about me, my coaches and assistants.”
Last season, United looked devoid of a style of play, having a porous defence and an attack which seemed to be scared of their opposition which also coincided with their worst points total in the Premier League – which is something that needs to be changed this season.
With preseason training almost a fortnight in for the majority of the players in the squad, Ten Hag and his backroom staff will be looking to implement a style of play which was similar to that of Ajax, who play good attacking football. Ten Hag explained how it could look, saying:
“We want to play a proactive style of football. On the ball and off the ball. Trying to do that has to be our intention. The coaches bring it over to the team that we are, in every situation, proactive.
“We are brave and willing to have the ball, to give each other options. But also off the ball, to get the pressing style is what we’re working for together.
“Of course, I want to bring the energy in my team. But I must say, the players do really well. They are really focused. They bring, for themselves, the energy.
“You see they enjoy playing football. They enjoy playing football together and they really work well together.”
This will be an interesting time for United. Not only to see how they fare against Liverpool but to see how much they have learned in the past fortnight or so but to also see if the squad have listened to their manager and learn from it. Roll on Tuesday to see what Ten Hag can bring.
Written by John Walker