Manchester United’s pre-season trip to the United States is not just a period of vital importance for the players, but also for the first team’s new-look coaching team, according to manager Jose Mourinho.
The departure of the Portuguese’s long-term assistant Rui Faria at the end of last season prompted changes, which means that United hero Michael Carrick, former Under-18s coach Kieran McKenna and new arrival Stefano Rapetti will be among those supporting the boss during 2018/19.
Speaking exclusively to MUTV before the team’s third day of training at the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, Mourinho explained he was delighted to be working more closely with some familiar faces.
Day three at UCLA Gallery
Tap and swipe left for the best shots from the third day of training at UCLA.
“It’s good for them [the coaches],” said Jose, of the pre-season period.
“I knew them all, for different reasons, in different circumstances. Rapetti was my assistant at Inter Milan for two seasons [2009-2011], so we were together and know each other well. But then for the last seven or eight years, when I went to Madrid, Chelsea and United, he went to Empoli and Sampdoria.
“Michael, of course, I know very well and he knows me very well, but he was a player and now it’s the first steps for him, in this period, to grow up and feel more comfortable in a new role.
“And Kieran, I know him from the club and I know he’s got potential, which is why I decided to bring him up. For him, it’s also good that half of the tour squad are his boys [from last season’s Under-18 team], for his confidence, and when he starts to work with the whole squad, he’s more adapted.
United’s first match takes place at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday night (03:00 BST on Friday morning), against Mexican outfit Club America. The Reds then go on to face San Jose Earthquakes, AC Milan, Liverpool and Real Madrid.
“They [Club America] are at the end of their pre-season, San Jose are in the middle of their season, and AC Milan come with all their players because Italy didn’t go to the World Cup,
“ added Mourinho. ”Then Liverpool, I think everybody is here apart from the English ones, [Jordan] Henderson and [Trent Alexander-] Arnold, maybe not them, but everybody else is.
“With Real Madrid, Spain were knocked out at a very early stage, so everybody is here too. [Gareth] Bale and [Karim] Benzema didn’t go to the World Cup, so we are going to face teams with obviously different potential than us. I’m not worried about that – I’m not worried if we lose, even if we lose to some not beautiful numbers.”
Jose's taking the positivesVideo
For the boss, focus remains on ensuring his players reach peak condition, his assistants settle well into their new roles, and that the young players undergoing their first tour develop alongside their more experienced colleagues.
“For [the young players], it’s fantastic,” he admitted.
“I always bring a few, even when the squad is complete, like I did with Scott McTominay and Demi Mitchell [last year]. You get to know them better, you see how far they can go and it’s a good way for them to grow up and get closer to the first team. This pre-season is different because they are half of the squad and for them it’s an amazing experience.”