Manchester United have redrawn parts of their summer tour in the United States after new manager Louis van Gaal said he was unsatisfied with the demands the commercial trip has put on his players. Following United’s comfortable 7-0 win over LA Galaxy on Wednesday, they flew to Denver where they met Roma on Saturday. Despite winning the game 3-2, van Gaal was not happy when United almost surrendered a 3-0 lead. He said the 90 degree heat, altitude and continuous traveling made it hard for his players to concentrate for the full 90 minutes.
When United were in Los Angeles for the Galaxy match, Dutchman van Gaal said the club’s training center at the StubHub complex was too far from the Beverky Wilshire Hotel where they were staying. Instead, he requested that the squad be moved to a nearby Holiday Inn so the players could get rest between double training sessions. It has been reported that van Gaal has asked for more of the same when United arrive in Washington DC and Detroit later in the tour. Although the same did not happen in Denver, a team was sent ahead from the base in LA to ensure the players could sit in formal fashion when they dined.
During United’s victory over the Galaxy in Pasadena, players were made aware that any mistakes they made would be noted by van Gaal and addressed at half-time. However, after the first training session in Denver on Thursday, the day after the victory in Pasadena, he praised the players for their discipline. He did say, though, that they still had a lot more hard work to do to meet his demands.
The former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach has a reputation that precedes him. When he was named coach of the Netherlands in 2012, van Gaal made adjustments in the team hotel to make sure the players mixed and did not stay in their rooms. He created a “family room” and “safe haven” where the players could play cards, table tennis and watch TV.
United’s next game, on Tuesday against Inter Milan at FedEx Field, could see van Gaal hand an opportunity to Wilfried Zaha, who has been on loan at different clubs since signing for the Red Devils in 2013. Zaha has been linked with an exit from Old Trafford, but van Gaal has gone on record as saying he will give youth a chance and Zaha is thought to be one of those players in his plans.
Although van Gaal has not said who will or will not feature against the Italian side, so far he has made numerous substitutions in his two-game United tenure. The chances are Zaha will come on if he is unable to make the starting 11. Although Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Shinji Kagawa, the players van Gaal described as his “best passers,” they still came in for criticism for not being precise enough in the Roma game. There will be added pressure on the defense going into the next game due to the goals they conceded later on in the last match. Goalkeeper Ben Amos received scathing criticism for the way Miralem Pjanić beat him from his own half. To say Van Gaal was unsatisfied and laid down the law for keepers in future games would be putting it mildly. When a reporter asked if he was angry at the goal, he responded,“I am nearly 63 years old and I run when the ball is flying four seconds, fifty meters. What do you think?”
Commentary by Robert Shepherd