Grant: Last summer was a huge eye-opener for me
Manchester United goalkeeper Lee Grant is looking forward to embarking on his second pre-season tour with the Reds.
The experienced stopper got his first real taste of life as a United player during last year’s tour, having joined just a few weeks before flying to the United States with his new team-mates.
This summer, the Reds will play six warm-up games ahead of the new season, in a number of locations around the globe, with tickets still available at manutd.com/tour.
With pre-season just weeks away, Grant has revealed what he’s looking forward to most and which opponent he’s most eager to take on this summer, while reflecting on the experience of 2018...
Pre-season is important for a number of reasons, but team bonding is obviously one of them - how key is that ahead of a new campaign?
"Yeah, it’s always really important, it’s a great time for the guys to come together. Obviously we’re spending two or three weeks in each other’s pockets so you don’t really have a choice but to get used to everybody and understand how everybody works together. It’s a good time to do that and, of course, doing it in the surroundings that we’ll be in this year is going to be great."
"Absolutely not! I’m probably speaking for most of the guys in saying this, but I’m looking forward to a bit of time away from them and spending a bit more time with my family. It gives everyone a chance to recharge and then you have that excitement the week leading up to pre-season and getting back into it, but yeah, I certainly don’t miss the guys in the off-season."
This year we’re going to Australia on tour, where the weather is obviously so warm. Does that make training harder or easier for the players?
"It’s both at the same time. So, of course it’s nice to train in warm weather and the pitches are usually good at that time of year. But at the same time, if you’re working really hard, which we will be, it can be difficult, and especially as a goalkeeper you need to be covered up with your arms and padding and everything else. So there can be some hot and difficult afternoons. Also, when you’ve got as much hair as I have, you need plenty of suncream!"
"Yeah, it was a huge eye-opener for me. That was my introduction to the football club, but, of course, as a fan of Manchester United anyway, I understand how big the club is and how large the reach is across the globe. But seeing it first hand and being involved in it, that’s a different kettle of fish all together. So I’m looking forward to see how many fans we’ve got in Australia and Asia and how much attention we can attract. I’m sure it will be huge and I’m looking forward to those games already."
Was there a moment last summer where you thought it was a little crazy?
"Yeah, a couple of times actually. I mean there were 101,000 people at one of the games, which is just incredible. So yeah, that was one of the moments where it really struck me how important this football club is to everybody on all sides of the globe. Even the opportunities we had to have commercial appearances and meet some of the local people, that was an eye-opener again. People wanted to come out and see us even if it was just for five minutes, or for an autograph, or for a picture, or even to see us training."
"Yeah of course, I think playing a variety of teams is important. The Premier League has its ups and downs in terms of opposition, styles, management styles, even down to individual players that we’ll be coming up against, so I think it’s important actually to have that in pre-season. It’s great that we’re doing that at this time of year, and again, playing the top teams is important for a top football club. We aim to be the best, which means we need to prepare like the best and play the best. That’s what we’re doing this summer and I’m looking forward to every game. It’s hard to pick one out in particular [that I’m most looking forward to]. Strangely, I think quite a lot of people, including most Man United fans, will be looking forward to the Leeds clash, and I’m no different in that. So yeah, they’re all important games and I’m looking forward to each and every one."
A lot of fans are looking forward to the Leeds game as we haven’t played them much over the last 15 years…
"Yeah, and they’re always great games. I don’t think Man United are alone in thinking that they enjoy playing against Leeds. Everybody enjoys playing against Leeds, everybody knows it’s an important club in English football, so yeah that’ll be a good one."
Are you a big fan of Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa?
"Yeah, he’s really interesting, he seems like a large character, but what I will say as well is that he is thought of really highly by a lot of the Spanish contingent in our squad. The more and more I read about him, the more intrigued I am. He’s a really interesting character."
There are so many different elements to pre-season: squad bonding, fitness training, tactical work, matches. Is there one in particular that you think is the most important?
"For me it’s the technical, tactical stuff that we’re going to be doing day to day. At the stage we’re at as a football club, I think it’s going to be really important. We’re obviously starting a new season with new management staff, albeit we had them last season, but it’s a chance for the management staff to really put an imprint on what they want from the squad and the team. So it’s an important time, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that and then seeing the results of it once the season gets under way."
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