McClaren: I get a great feeling from this group
Manchester United assistant coach Steve McClaren has praised the Reds’ squad for the way in which they have already adapted to the methods of new manager Erik ten Hag.
United have now reached the end of our pre-season schedule, with the defeat to Atletico Madrid in Oslo the only real blip following wins over Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace, plus draws with Aston Villa and Rayo Vallecano.
All attention is now on our Premier League opening fixture, against Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Sunday.
And McClaren says he is getting positive vibes from the dressing room as we approach the season proper.
“The great thing that I’ve found is that these are great players to work with,” said McClaren. “They were a little quiet the first week: it [the training] was very demanding.
“But as we got to know the players, as we got more and more into training sessions and they know the demands, the intensity, the competition, the winning and losing, the banter that goes along with it, you can feel the noise and the volume in training, in the dressing room, around the hotel and around Carrington, start to [build].
“That’s what I like, that’s why I enjoy coaching, that’s why I enjoy coming back here because these are damn-good players. You can see that.
“I mean you’ve seen little bits of it in pre-season: the combination of the front three, the work rate of the midfield, you know the organisation at the back. These are good players and they really are – I know they found the first week tough and demanding.
“This group have been fantastic. I get a great feeling,” he continued. “I’ve been into many, many dressing rooms and many dressing rooms for the first two, three, four weeks you kind of know and can smell [it].
“I’ve got a good feeling about this dressing room.”
Various United players were keen to point out the squad’s camaraderie during the recent pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia.
McClaren agrees and was at pains to get across just how vital a strong team spirit is, along with a willingness and desire to run for each other.
“You can’t win football matches without it [team spirit]. You cannot win,” Steve added.
“You have to have a good environment. You have to have a good culture. You have to have players willing to run and that’s the key.
“You’ve got to work hard to create chances and opportunities and then execute them.
“The demands are there and that’s what creates a great environment. I can see that spirit. It’s great coming from the outside; coming in, with no preconceptions about the culture and environment and it’s clean and it’s gone.”
Nobody at United needs reminding how disappointing the 2021/22 season was, but McClaren says that’s now all behind us and that the squad is fully focused on moving forward under Erik and his coaches.
“Last season, seasons are gone. The history is gone. It’s past.
“It’s about the future and we’ve got an opportunity to create that in a certain style and Erik wants to see that happen.
“The vibe that I’m getting from the players: they want it too. They want that discipline, they want to know what their jobs are. They want feedback on it. Because they want to win.
“I’m afraid at Manchester United you have to win.”