What will Ten Hag take from the Spain camp?
Excitement is starting to build as Manchester United near the return of competitive action, against Burnley on Wednesday 21 December.
Many first-team regulars will be back available for manager Erik ten Hag, while some of the young players who went away on last week's winter training camp in Spain could also be involved.
On this week’s episode of The Debate, ex-Reds David May and Wes Brown joined presenter Liam Bradford and journalist Laurie Whitwell to reflect on our trip to Europe.
Brown, who worked his way up through the Academy during his playing days, explained why the training camp and two friendly matches were so important for our youngsters.
“It’s good,” he said. “It’s always good. Especially as a younger kid.
“When I did that - went with the first team - it was good. It’s good for bonding. If you’re there for a week with the lads, you’re straight in the mix. No messing about. It’s something that is needed.
“But for the younger lads it will have been a good experience and being with some of the first team as well, I know a lot of them wouldn’t have been in that sort of situation before.
“It’s all about bonding and character building and getting a bit more gametime for the first team and understanding the manager a bit more.”
May was a senior United player when Brown was breaking into the first team and he agreed with his former team-mate, placing more impetus on the experience the young players will have got off the pitch rather than on it.
“It’s great for the young kids,” he said. “Having not been in the first-team environment, [it’s good] for them to actually see what it is like.
“Going to Spain, not as a European game, but [it gives them an idea of] what it could be like playing in the Champions League or the Europa League. Just getting that first-team vibe is vitally important for them.
“Alright, the results weren’t good results, but it’s not about that. It’s about fitness, because I suppose the lads that have been playing week in, week out and then you stop playing, you need those games.”
The winter training and friendlies wasn’t just a good opportunity for the young Reds, as it also gave some first-team regulars a chance to work their way back to fitness, such as striker Anthony Martial.
The Athletic journalist Whitwell believes that seeing the Frenchman back on the pitch in Spain is a huge plus for Ten Hag going into the season’s resumption.
“Him playing in Spain was a bonus,” he said. “To see him back on the pitch [is great] because if United can keep him fit at least that’s somebody that can interlink [in the forward areas].
“But it’s just [about] keeping him off the treatment table [now].”