ARTICLES Match Previews Opinion

What do Manchester United have in store for the 2021/22 pre-season?

Football is a world that never stops spinning, a sport that never truely ends. With Euro 2020 finished, Manchester United fans will be turning their heads back to club football. Some players such as Mason Greenwood, Alex Telles & Nemanja Matic have already returned to the club to report for pre-season training, however United have 15 players who are scheduled to return later. These players are:

  • Edinson Cavani
  • Harry Maguire
  • Marcus Rashford
  • Jadon Sancho
  • Luke Shaw
  • Paul Pogba
  • Victor Lindelof
  • Bruno Fernandes
  • Diogo Dalot
  • Fred
  • Eric Bailly
  • Amad
  • Hannibal Mejbri
  • Daniel James
  • Dylan Levitt
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The squad who are back in training are due to embark on a week-long UK based training camp, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær likely looking to increase team bonding and aiming to get a full and proper pre-season in for the squad, as a lack of pre-season in the summer of 2020 had a significant impact on the 2020/21 season. With a full summer to focus on creating more team cohesion and potentially establishing a better, long lasting tacical base for the team, this pre-season could give the Red Devils exactly the foundation they need to finally win a trophy under Solskjær.

Pre-season fixtures:

July 18th – Derby County (A)

Manchester United’s first pre-season fixture will come against a familiar face – Wayne Rooney. 14 years and 60 days after they last played together for United, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Wayne Rooney will face each other in the dugout as they both look to get their seasons underway with a win. This match will be a mark of match fitness for Ole’s reds, after their week long training camp and time at Carrington. It will be expected that almost everyone will get some minutes in this first match, as they all aim to impress the boss before the real season gets underway.

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July 24th – Queens Park Rangers (A)

After facing Derby, United are due to travel to London to face QPR in their 2nd test of the pre-season. Facing a side who last time out finished 9th in the Championship, United will see a tough test as QPR look to finish in the playoff spots in the Championship this coming season, with the thought of using such a finish to launch a bid for promotion back in to to the Premier League in future.

Manchester United have had some successful clashes with QPR in the past, most notibly beating them 4-0 back in September 2014, with Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata both on the scoresheet. Potentially most famously, this fixture brought out an iconic quote from former United manager Louis Van Gaal, where he called the club “Queens Park Raisins”, much to everyone’s ammusement at the time.

July 28th – Brentford (H)

After playing two Championship sides, Ole’s United side will take on their first Premier League test, in the form of newly promoted Brentford. Known for their fluid attack and star frontman Ivan Toney, Brentford will certainly symbolise a tougher test for the squad, as they re-adjust to Premier League level football. Brentford have just been promoted following a strong win against Swansea City in the Championship Playoff Final, and will be looking to make their mark on a Premier League giant to show they mean business ahead of the new season.

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July 31st – Preson North End (A)

Just 3 days after playing Brentford at home, United are next set to play Preston North End at Deepdale. A side who aim to finish in the top half of the Championship this season, it will be a tough and very real test for some of the United players, and may well simulate the fast turn around of matches that the Premier League and Champions League combined often demands, playing two games in the space of four days.

United will face a familiar player when matching up against Preston, in the form of former academy graduate Josh Harrop. Harrop is most famous among United fans for scoring a rather spectacular goal on his debut against Crystal Palace back in 2017, a match which contained 8 academy players in the United starting XI and a further 4 on the bench – something that was a pretty rare occurance during Jose Mourinho’s tenure at the club.

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August 7th – Everton (H)

For their final pre-season match-up, United will take on Everton, in what is lined up to be the biggest match of the summer, before the official competition begins. Although Everton are not at the level of the best teams United normally play in pre-season such as Real Madrid or Liverpool, this final game will give the boys a good level of final preperation before what is expected to be one of the lively matches of the season on August 14th – United’s opening Premier League fixture of the season, at home against arch rivals Leeds United.

All of United’s players who aren’t injured are expected to be back and fully fit within the camp by this point in pre-season, so the clash against Everton is sure to show the fans a sneak-peak of what Solskjær has in store for the Red Devils this coming season.

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Conclusion

Although the matches are not part of an organised tournament (like they have been in previous years), pre-season is set to be a vital time for the reds ahead of what is anticipated to be their best season yet under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, and it will be a vital time for the squad, including newcomers. With United already signing Tom Heaton and agreeing a fee for Jadon Sancho, as well as looking to add Raphael Varane and potentially Eduardo Camavinga to their ranks, the pre-season will be a vital period to help blood these potential new additions to the squad.

Pre-season also represents a chance for some of United’s more fringe players to impress the boss ahead of the new season. Players who are currently clearly not first choice in their position, such as Alex Telles and Donny van de Beek, have a real chance to shine both during games and in training as the competitors for their position are currently resting after Euro 2020. Hopefully this pre-season kicks the reds in to producing a fanatastic year for the fans.

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