Phelan: We are getting into their minds and bodies
Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan believes the players are responding to the coaching methods being introduced during the first part of Tour 2019.
The Reds are being worked hard in Australia as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to implement a high-energy playing style in 2019/20. There were signs of this intensity during the 2-0 victory against Perth Glory at the weekend, with Leeds United up next on Wednesday (kick-off 12:00 BST).
The minutes on the pitch will help develop the individuals' fitness in preparation for the new campaign but Phelan is convinced the right messages are getting through on the training field.
“We're piecing everything together,” he told us.
“We've asked the players to do more and we're getting that response from them. You can see the intensity in training is high. We need to keep pushing and pushing. We're not just preparing them for the first game of the season [against Chelsea on 11 August] but preparing them for the season.
”We all know last season was difficult - a great start but poor finish. We need to make sure now that the energy, stamina and enthusiasm is in the players right from the start.
“It's not just fitness. We want them to be mentally tough as well to experience what it really is about Manchester United - it's right to the end, from start to finish. We had periods in games where we looked really at it and really strong but then faded. We need to get that Man United back, that goes right the way through 96 minutes, which is a game of football nowadays, and we're preparing them for that.
”The players have to understand how it feels to be fatigued and then go again. We're trying to get that into them, both in their minds and in their bodies.
United will have plenty of options for the team to take on Leeds with the prospect of a number of changes being made at the interval, as was the case in the defeat of Perth Glory.
“We brought 24 [outfield] people on tour and it's good to see we've still got 24 [outfield] people training,” added Phelan.
“That's nice and we're two weeks into it. We have to use them well and they all have to get minutes. These first two games are definitely where we can do a little bit of mix and matching. It's not ideally balanced but, then again, it's all about minutes on the football field. Then we can start looking at formulating for the next two games on tour and who needs more minutes and where we need to take this group of players in the process of pre-season.”
Leeds looked on course for a return to the Premier League last term but ended up being beaten by Derby County in the play-off semi-finals. Despite that bitter disappointment, the Yorkshiremen will be determined to gain promotion under Marcelo Bielsa and are certain to be highly motivated for this game.
“It was intense playing and even coaching when we went to Leeds as coaches,” recalled Phelan.
“It's always been a difficult environment - home and away really but particularly when we went to Elland Road. They were vociferous, to say the least, and that was just getting off the coach and going into the ground.
”During the game, it was blood and thunder at times. They have a very passionate support, Leeds United, and they were very a good team at the time. They're trying to get those memories back and are trying to get into this Premier League.
“Bielsa is an excellent coach and a very deep thinker on the game. He is very passionate about football and how he wants his teams to play. I think we saw that last season when they went very, very close and probably should have got over the line. They just need that little bit extra but didn't quite have it. He works the team hard and took his principles that he wants them to adhere to. He'll be looking to take them all the way this time.”
Leeds will be the second of six pre-season games being shown live on MUTV this summer. The club's official television channel is available on MUTV.com, the MUTV app, Amazon Fire, Roku, Xbox and Apple TV.