How United got fit, fresh and ready to go again
Jose Mourinho and the Manchester United squad have completed a successful and highly-beneficial week in Dubai, ahead of Monday's return to Premier League action.
The Reds took part in another session at the Nad Al Sheeba Complex as the boss worked on more tactical plans, with Stoke City's visit to Old Trafford in mind.
The squad began the day with a number of stretches and drills, before embarking on some ball work. At the same time, the three goalkeepers on the trip - David De Gea, Joel Pereira and Kieran O'Hara - worked separately with their coaches, before later joining the full group.
Official club photographer John Peters has been in the Middle East all week and you can see his exclusive images from Thursday in the gallery below...
Ready to go again! Gallery
United have stepped up the preparations for Monday night's Premier League return.
Assistant manager Rui Faria:
“Good weather is always good. Our idea was basically to think about a good period to work well, with good conditions and good facilities, to get the opportunity to spend more time with the players that we didn't have during the Christmas period. This period allows us to put some ideas to the team, to work well with the players, to bring the tactical ideas that the manager wants to have. This allows us time and conditions for all of that. It is a very important period for the second half of the season that is coming up.”
Goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez:
“One of the massive benefits is the weather, because people need to know how hard it is for a big goalkeeper with bad weather because they feel cold quickly and it is really uncomfortable. Maybe our three goalkeepers are the happiest of the whole squad this week.”
Fitness coach Carlos Lallin:
“The Christmas period and the 10 games was a hard period so to come here with nice weather, we have mentally improved the players for the last part of the season. We have prepared the players form a tactical point of view, too. The facilities are unbelievable. We have a very good pitch, very good facilities, hotel, gym, swimming pool... I would like to come back here. I need to speak with the club - each month, one week here, would be perfect!”
MUTV’s Mark Sullivan on the team’s daily routine in Dubai…
“The players have a good sleep each night and they generally leave their rooms at half 10 or 11 in the morning. They then report to the restaurant where they have a dinner, and then they get on the coach at around 2pm for training. It’s a 30-minute transfer to the sports complex. Jose and his staff are already there, setting up the drills and getting things ready for the session. The players get changed, get out to the pitch, warm up and then the 90-minute session begins. After that they generally get in the pool, get showered, changed and head back to the team hotel. There they have a team meal and after that they have a bit of free time to socialise, relax and enjoy themselves.
“The facilities here in Dubai are absolutely stunning, by the way. It is state-of-the-art stuff and that’s why United have decided to come here. Morale is really, really high and the players are loving their time here. You can already see the benefits of the trip. The players are clearly re-energised and rejuvenated. When we get back to Manchester, I think everybody will see the benefits of the trip.”
Take a tour of the training facilityVideo
Rob Wadsworth, Director of Sport at Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex...
“We term ourselves as a world-class elite training centre for teams and athletes. We are used by a variety of federations around the world and we've had the likes of United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, plus teams from Scandinavia and Germany as well. We have also hosted athletes completing their rehabilitations, like Jack Wilshere and Virgil van Dijk in the summer. We have a range of facilities of course. We are geared up for football right now, but we also have recovery facilities in the swimming pool, the gym, ice chambers, altitude chambers, plus a range of indoor facilities as well.
“Warm-weather training is beneficial to any team, but particularly United because Manchester doesn't quite get the weather of Dubai. You get the advantage of training outside, the vitamin D and the hot conditions have clear benefits. There is also the benefit of being away and being together at a critical point in the season. Hopefully United can get the most out of this and get the most out of the rest of the season. It's been wonderful to have Manchester United here. It has brought a real buzz to the complex, to the staff and also for Dubai.
Your club reporters are also out in Dubai, following the players and capturing every moment of training Nas Al Sheba from pitchside.
After all, it’s the little moments between the players that often the most interesting and we saw several on Thursday. Check out our favourites below…