Manchester United ended their pre-season tour on Sunday with a 1-1 draw against Spanish opposition Rayo Vallecano. The final game of United’s relatively successful pre-season tour marked the end of the team’s preparations ahead of the new campaign, after matches in Bangkok, Australia, and Oslo against Liverpool, Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, and Atletico Madrid.
All attention by both the club and the fans has now shifted to the Premier League opening fixture on Sunday against Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford.
United’s assistant coach Steve McClaren spoke to club media on the Red’s preparation and his thoughts on the way the players have taken to Erik ten Hag’s style of play and football philosophy.
Speaking on the players and their attitudes, McClaren was full of praise for the group, who he described as “great players to work with.”
McClaren also shed light on the new manager’s training sessions and how the players have taken these sessions on board. “As we got to know the players, more and more into training sessions and they know the demands, the intensity, the competition, the winning and losing.”
“You can feel the noise and the volume in training, dressing room, around the hotel and Carrington, start to build. They were a little quiet the first week, the training was very demanding.”
McClaren in his interview pointed out the manager’s tactical tweaks and how these have already started to take shape within matches, something that has been evident during United’s pre-season games.
“I mean you’ve seen little bits of it in pre-season. The combination of the front three, the work rate of the midfield, you know the organization at the back. These are good players and they really are.”
On the mood inside the dressing room, United’s assistant coach remarked, “I’ve been into many, many dressing rooms and many dressing rooms for the first two, three, four weeks you kind of know and can smell it. And I’ve got a good feeling about this dressing room. You can’t win football matches without team spirit. You cannot win.”
On being asked what will be different between last season and this season, McClaren emphasized a cultural reboot that was currently happening within the club and the training ground.
“You have to have a good environment. You have to have a good culture. You have to have players willing to run and that’s the key. Last season, seasons are gone. The history is gone. It’s past.”
“It’s about the future and we’ve got an opportunity to create that in a certain style and Erik wants to see that happen. They [the players] want that discipline, they want to know what their jobs are. They want feedback on it. Because they want to win.”
In a rallying call, McClaren said, “I’m afraid at Manchester United, you have to win.”