United landed here in LA last Sunday July 9th, and have been training every day since at the UCLA facilities based in Westwood, a short 10 minute drive from their hotel in Beverly Hills. The facilities are first class, and everything you could wish for on a pre-season, and of course the beautiful LA weather doesn’t hurt.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to training on Friday along with my 10 year old son, Max, and I would say the first thing I noticed was the very upbeat mood of all the players. They were fantastic with my young boy, all of them bar none stopping to chat with him, signing a shirt he had, and just generally giving him their time. Jose was also a gent – we met him first before the players arrived, and he posed for photos and signed his shirt.
Of course the whole experience for Max was just amazing, and then to watch them do some light training was also interesting. We got to speak to a number of the coaching staff, who are from Spain, Italy and Portugal, along with some of the medical team. They were all great, and super friendly, making us feel very welcome.
When you are so close to the players, you really realize just how tall they are – United are a huge team, and I think they would easily intimidate most opposition in the tunnel waiting to go onto the pitch. Remember not so many years ago when teams were basically beaten in the tunnel…wouldn’t it be nice if those days returned this season?
Earlier this week, we went to the Stub Hub Center to watch United take on LA Galaxy. Of course we cannot get carried away by a pre- season friendly, especially against this sort of opposition, but we witnessed some very positive play by United, and it never hurts to find the net 5 times on your first outing of the summer. Rashford opened the account after 2 minutes and scored again midway through the first half – he looked really sharp and hungry, and in truth should have killed the match ball before half time when he only had the keeper to beat. Mata was sheer class throughout the first half, and De Gea was about as busy as we were, literally a spectator throughout that first half. Jose changed the whole 11 for the 2nd half, introducing Lindelof and Lukaku amongst others, and overall the team performed very well.
I personally thought Martial looked really sharp, making great runs through the middle, and whilst occasionally he could have been accused of being slightly greedy, that’s what strikers should be; he scored a terrific goal and was unfortunate not to have had a couple more.
Lindelof looks a good acquisition – quick, strong and a ball player, and I think United fans can be excited about watching him this season. And our other new signing Lukaku is simply a beast – so strong, and could have scored with his first touch. There’s no doubt in my mind that he will be a success at United.
I like Mkhitaryan in the hole and he also looked ready, whilst Andreas Pereira looked very comfortable on the ball, always finding a United player with a pass.
United played 22 players on the night, without the likes of Rojo, Shaw or Young able to be involved. When you go through the squad player by player, it’s really hard to think of any club right now with a stronger squad of players, so surely it’s up to Jose and his coaching team to take us back to the promised land of Premier League and European glory. But the transfer window is still firmly open, and I personally think Fabinho would be a great buy as he’s equally comfortable at right back or midfield; he’s young and already a terrific player, so with today’s transfer fees what they are, £45 million for Fabinho would seem a good deal.
After a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake to keep their pre-season win record going, United can now look forward to meeting Man City in Houston far a derby with a distinctly BBQ flavour…