David De Gea Sergio Romero and Lee Grant

How United's keepers are training during lockdown

Manchester United’s goalkeepers are having to think outside the box to keep themselves fit and active during the current lockdown.

With football suspended due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the entire squad having to train at home, it has been a test drawing up plans to ensure David De Gea, Sergio Romero and Lee Grant are mentally and physically ready for whenever the campaign does resume.

That’s the view of Michael Clegg, our first-team strength and power coach, who works closely with goalkeeping coaches Richard Hartis and Craig Mawson.

“Ultimately, it is a challenge in this environment,” said Clegg in our Goalkeeper Hangout, featuring De Gea, Romero, Grant and the trio of coaches. “When we first got asked to work from home, it was a case of what do the boys need [in order] to do the training over this extended period of time?

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“We didn’t know if that was going to be three weeks, six weeks or 12 weeks. So first of all, I think, quite rightly, we’ve spoke about the players' overall wellbeing, their mental health and connection to their families, and whether they’ve got to travel abroad or stay in their local town.

“Again we have to start thinking about their routine and what type of stuff is going to help them stay motivated.

“We’ve got physiological changes throughout the season but also getting the testosterone around their body to make them feel good again. We wanted to get a group dynamic, that was important, so we decided to work at it over a long period of time.”

While De Gea and Grant have remained in the Manchester area, Romero travelled back home to Argentina last month to be with his family.

With that in mind, and after a gruelling opening few months to 2020, the keepers were given some time off when the effects of the pandemic first started to hit.

Now, though, the workload has started to ramp up, with tailored, individual plans designed by the team for each goalkeeper.

“We thought it was best to give them a bit of downtime,” added Clegg. “It’s been a long season, with a game every three or four days, so we felt like, especially with Sergio travelling back to Argentina, we’ll give them a little bit of downtime.

Sergio Romero
Sergio Romero has returned to Argentina to be with his wife and family.

“Now we’re going to work until we get back to the training ground, whenever that will be. The players understand it’s about kinetics, the movement of the body, stay in good physical shape and then we can start to get more and more individualised.

“Granty’s got a wrist injury and David and Sergio have got a slightly different aspect which are their skills and weaknesses, and these plans will develop and get more bespoke and lasered in to what they need.”

Lee Grant
Grant is recovering from an operation he underwent in January.

Of course, goalkeeping is a specialist profession and it’s not easy for De Gea, Romero and Grant to work on their specific skills at home.

Each keeper is, therefore, being encouraged to come up with their own drills – not just to ensure reflexes are sharp, but also as a way to alleviate the tedium of lockdown.

“[The technical work is] something the lads draw up themselves really,” added Mawson, who joined the club from Burnley in December. “Obviously the physical programmes Cleggy has spoken about there, a couple of times a week we get together and go through them as a unit.

“But the technical aspect hasn’t really been hammered home by us as coaches. It’s an opportunity for them to maybe kill a bit of time, keep their eye in.

“[There’s] not a lot of equipment in their homes, but it’s really their ownership and them being as creative and simplistic with their ideas that they feel they want to work on and to keep them ticking over and keep their eye in, really.”

Watch the full Goalkeeper Hangout, featuring De Gea, Romero, Grant and the coaches, in the video above.

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