Maguire looking forward to the future
Manchester United club captain Harry Maguire is looking forward to the future under the new manager, Erik ten Hag.
Our club captain sat down with us at the team hotel in Bangkok and we asked him about Ten Hag's training methods, our aims for pre-season and more, during an in-depth chat to mark the start of Tour 2022.
The skipper was keen to emphasise how hard the lads are working in Thailand, and he also mentioned how glad he was to see our fervent support there, as well as offering a word on how new signing Tyrell Malacia is fitting in.
Read, and watch, our full interview with Harry below...
How was your summer break? Are you feeling refreshed and revitalised ahead of the pre-season campaign?
“Yeah, I had a good summer, not too long, but I’m feeling refreshed and ready to go. It’s great to see all the lads again, the staff, and obviously the new manager and his coaches as well. It’s been a really exciting week, a really tough week [of training] but I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings.”
Last season was a long one and you didn’t finish playing until mid-June, so how did you spend the break?
“Last season was a long, tough, difficult season but we’ve got to put it behind us now and look forward to the future under the new manager. We know we’ve got to improve on last season and we will do. We’ll work hard. The lads have all come back in great shape. I got married in the summer so it was a good summer for me and I went and relaxed on my honeymoon with my wife so it was a great summer for me. I feel relaxed and refreshed and ready for a big season.”
Congratulations on the marriage! You mentioned the new manager there... I bet you all couldn’t wait to get back to training?
“Often when you leave for the summer, you’re looking forward to your break but when you’re on your break you’ve always got one eye on coming back and wanting to come back. I came back a week later, [as one of] the international lads, so when you see the [other] boys back at Carrington working hard, you know they’re working hard on their fitness and you want to get back as soon as possible and join in. It was a great first week and it’s great to be over here on tour.”
Is there a sense then that the squad really wants to impress the new manager and his coaching staff?
“Yeah, of course. I think every pre-season you always want to impress. You always want to come back fit and you always want to show yourself, but never more so than when you’ve got a new manager in charge. The boys have come back in great shape and we’re all working hard and striving for the same thing, which is success for this club.”
How's training going so far? Obviously you all keep in great shape over the summer but coming out to places like this, you must look forward to getting down to work?
“Yeah, I think training’s been tough. As a group of players, we understand where we’re at physically. We’ve come back in good shape, but we need to get fitter. I think, on behalf of us last year, we know we need to do more: we need to be fitter, we need to be physically better and we need to be mentally better. So this is a perfect tour for us to enable that and to improve on our fitness and our style of play.”
Has that been the main focus so far then, the fitness?
“Yeah, I think the first couple of weeks is all about volume and working on yourself physically. We’ve also had a lot of tactical ideas thrown in there too. We know the season is four weeks away and it comes around quick, so you’ve got to work on both as [much] as you can but in the first few weeks, [working] physically is the most important.”
In terms of tactics, we know the boss has said he likes attacking football so is this something you're seeing already?
“Yeah, of course. He has high demands and it’s demands we look forward to and we’re willing to take on and learn and improve. I’m sure he’ll have a big impact at this club and, like I said, we’re all looking forward to working under him and we look forward to what the future brings.”
How does his style of play feed into you as a defender? Have you noticed any changes or different demands to what you’re used to?
“Yeah, I think the overall demands of the game, in every aspect. I can’t really pick one or two aspects, it’s in every aspect that he demands a lot. Like I say, he’s been brilliant this first week. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and then the start of the season.”
What’s it been like working with the new coaching staff? Obviously Steve McClaren has a lot of experience because he’s been here before…
“Of course, Steve’s got so much experience and he’s had a lot of jobs around the world, [including] managing his country, so he’s going to bring that Premier League experience and I’m sure he’ll help along the way. Obviously, the boss has brought him in and I think he’ll help us in terms of that experience but of course we’re willing to learn from all of the new coaches.”
Meeting their heroesGallery
Our loyal fans in Thailand have been a regular presence in the hotel and their support is greatly appreciated.
Talking of new faces, we’ve brought in Tyrell Malacia. He’s someone who could play on the left side of you in defence, so what have been your first impressions and how is he fitting in so far?
“Yeah, he’s fitted in really well. He’s come in with a big smile on his face and he’s a really fit lad. He’s only trained a couple of times so I’m sure he’ll get used to playing under the new manager, like we all are. He’s going to be a great addition for us. It’s more competition for places and that’s what we need at this club.”
It’s two weeks away from home and families but is it also a great chance for the players to all bond together and really put in that work on the training pitch?
“Yeah, I’m sure everyone will miss their families back home but it’s a real good chance to build our team spirit and to build our chemistry within the team while we’re working on our fitness and our tactics in the game. It’s my first tour at this club. I’ve been here three years now so I’m looking forward to seeing what it brings. I had a great welcome from all the Thai people over here, so it’s a real enjoyable occasion for myself, to see the worldwide fans of this club and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the next couple of weeks.”
That was going to be my next question actually, because when you came back we saw all the fans waiting for you in the hotel lobby. What’s it like, seeing how popular United are on a global scale, because you won’t have had that before?
“Yeah, it’s incredible the size of the club. You feel it in England but then when you come to places like this, you know how big on a global scale, worldwide, this club is. It has amazing fans, not just in England, but across the world, and we’re forever thankful for that.”
We’ve got 31 names in our travelling squad and a lot of them are young players, so what will it be like for them to experience that attention on a global scale and the fans who just love United so much out here?
“It’s an amazing occasion for them, an amazing experience and I’m sure they’re going to learn so much from it, but they’re here to impress as well. They’re here to impress in training and they’re here to fight for places, that’s why they’re here. I’m sure they want to impress at a level which will impress the manager, like we all do, so it’s a great experience for them, at their age especially, to come away with Manchester United on a tour and, like you say, see the fans in a global aspect. It’s huge for them.”
We’ve got four matches while we’re out here on tour. I bet you can’t wait to hit the ground running again and get back into that competitive football?
“Of course, training’s a really important part of improvement and then you’ve got to take it into the games. The games will be more on the performance and physical side of the game. We are working on our fitness for the first game of the season but of course there’s nothing like playing football matches and we’ll go into the games wanting to win the games.”
Liverpool are first up. We know it’s a friendly but is there a better way to get the competitive juices flowing than a game against our rivals?
“No, of course, the first fixture you look for in the Premier League is against Liverpool, followed by Manchester City. So it’s big games, it’s big rivalries. We know what it means to the fans. We know it’s a friendly as well and it’s our first game. I’m sure there are going to be lots of changes going into the game, as we’re working on our fitness, but we want to win the football match.”
Three of the four friendlies while we’re out here are against Premier League sides so does that help prepare for the season as well. They’re teams we know inside out really but it’s a good test of the physical preparation too…
“Of course, we know what the Premier League brings now. Every team that plays in the Premier League is tough, we have great opponents who have great ability. We know they’re going to be good challenges [but] like I said we’re focused on ourselves. We’re not really focused on who we’re playing at the moment, we’ve got to improve ourselves tactically, physically, mentally, in all aspects. We’ll focus on ourselves and just make sure we’re ready.”
Finally, as a player, what are you hoping to get out of this tour ahead of the new season opener against Brighton in August?
“I’m hoping that I’m physically ready and mentally ready for the first game of the season. That’s what everyone here on tour is like. Obviously, the other experiences of meeting all the fans and seeing the global fanbase is great as well and one I’m looking forward to. The most important thing is making sure we’re ready for that first game of the season.”
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