How much planning do you have to do for pre-season?
A lot. There’s repetition from previous years, good work which we try to repeat, but you also have to introduce new elements so the players aren’t getting bored. Pre-season is difficult for players, especially this one as for some players it’s the longest break they’ve had in many years. Their concentration has dropped, so it’s important they get their heads round what we’re asking them to do and move on quickly. We’re going on tour relatively early, so our preparations are split between Carrington and our bases in America.
Different players are returning at different times - how do you manage that?
Well, we’re Manchester United and we have the facilities, the staff and experience to cater for every eventuality. We concentrate now on the group that is with us and when the others come back they will be taken care of by other members of staff. Then we'll bring it all together in the final week before we start the season. That’s the aim. Obviously the World Cup players will be a little bit behind, but that sharpness will come. Players today are sensible anyway, they look after themselves a lot better than they used to.
Better than in your playing days?
[Laughs] Yeah! And it changes all the time. Players’ attitudes change, and the stakes are probably higher now than they’ve ever been. You have more players to work