The squad is a little different to those in pre-season tours gone by. A considerable number of first team squad members are missing due to either injury, rest following the Euros or preparation for the Olympics.
This has led to the squad being a blend of experience and youth/reserve team members looking to make a name for themselves. As such there will be performances for us to look out for, most notably:
1) Shinji Kagawa – This is one person that both Man Utd and Premier League fans alike will be looking out for. Coming off the back of a highly successful season in the Bundesliga, Kagawa brings with him a quick presence of mind, creativity, and attacking intent that was desperately lacking for Manchester United last season.
2) Jesse Lingard – During his time in the reserves, Lingard has demonstrated his a ability to run a midfield. With his ability on and off the ball he has managed to impress those at United so much that he has left people such as teammate Danny Welbeck saying that training with Lingard and Larnell Cole made him feel like he was “playing against a little Iniesta and Xavi.” While I feel he is still too early in his development to be in consideration for a place in the first team, an impressive pre-season tour could earn him a good loan move. Such a move will be a crucial stepping stone for his career at Old Trafford.
3) Robbie Brady – Touted as the Ireland’s greatest attacking prospect, Robbie Brady spent most of last season turning heads while on loan at Hull City. Singled out by Kevin Keegan as a player that has “got something” about him, Robbie Brady seems to be the potential heir to Ryan Giggs’ place in the squad. However, this tour will present a greater challenge for him. In the absence of Patrice Evra, Brady has been given the task of demonstrating his versatility by filling in at left back. While he wont face the toughest of opposition, a few solid performances could ensure that he gets an opportunity for some first team football next season.
4) Davide Petrucci – When Manchester United signed Petrucci in 2008, he was dubbed as ‘the next Totti.’ While that is a tough act to follow, Petrucci certainly displayed ability to fit this mould but unfortunately his development was hampered by injury. However, since regaining his fitness he has been hugely impressive for the reserves contributing 8 goals from 25 starts. His development suggests that he is ready for an opportunity in the first team squad, and this tour should hopefully reflect that. At the very least, a strong showing in the pre-season tour could attract the attention of a Premier League side who may want to take him on loan. Either way, it is critical that he gets first team experience to continue his current development.
5) Ryan Tunnicliffe – The 2011 Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year Award winner has looked destined for a first team squad place since he was not allowed to go back on loan to Peterborough in January. A box-to-box player by nature, he appears to be the heir apparent to the vacancy left by Darren Fletcher’s absence. However, with senior players ahead of him, he will need a stellar performance in this pre-season in order to prove his immediate readiness for a place in the first team. With Carrick and Scholes in the squad it is unlikely that he will start any games in the pre-season, but look for him to play with high energy when he is put in the spotlight.
While I have highlighted the above as potential stand out performers, perhaps one of the biggest takeaways we may be able to get is how Man Utd could potentially line up next season.
With the additions of Kagawa and Powell it seems inevitable that a formation change will be required, and this tour presents the best opportunity to test this.
The tour begins tonight against AmaZulu FC, who will be fired up due to it being Nelson Mandela day, so nothing should be taken for granted. However, Sir Alex will be hoping for a strong showing from Mancehster United to build on for the upcoming season.
Who are you most excited to see in action?
image: © Schwenke