Manchester United's head of fitness and conditioning Tony Strudwick says preparations for the new 2012/13 campaign are going exactly to plan.
A group of 22 players are currently honing their fitness on the first part of United’s DHL pre-season tour of South Africa and China. The Reds claimed victory in the opening tour match on Wednesday night in Durban against AmaZulu FC and are now preparing for two more friendlies against Ajax Cape Town on Saturday and Shanghai Shenhua next Wednesday.
Strudwick is pleased with the squad’s progress so far and insists the tour will be a great learning curve, on and off the pitch, for the host of young players in the travelling party.
“Things are going well,” Strudwick told us. “We had a good week and a half at Carrington when many of the players came back and they got straight into some ball work which is part of our philosophy. This week the games come into play and take precedence really.
“In and around the matches there are opportunities to top the players up with training but the target in these two weeks is to get the players exposed to match minutes with the main focus being on getting the senior players who are on tour ready for that first match against Everton on 20 August. That’s where we’re at the moment.
“There’s good energy within the group we have with us. Obviously some are away at the Olympics while the European Championship players aren’t back yet, but this tour has given the youngsters an opportunity to come in and do well and they’ve certainly done that so far. Robbie Brady and Jesse Lingard, for example, have come in and stepped up to the plate and shown they’re competent and assured at this level and that’s good to see.
“Another important part of the tour is to expose the young players, and the new lads, to what it is to be a Manchester United player and the experience that comes with travelling with the club around the world. You can tell all the lads are enjoying the tour and they’re embracing all the extra bits that come along on the trip such as the commercial activities the players get involved in. It’s a good learning curve, full stop.”