Why Lindelof's looking forward to facing Leeds
Manchester United's fierce rivalry with Leeds United will be renewed in pre-season and for Victor Lindelof it means coming up against a familiar face.
The Whites will provide the opposition in Perth, Australia on Wednesday 17 July, in what will be the first meeting between the old adversaries since the Reds ran out 3-0 victors in a League Cup tie at Elland Road in September 2011.
Lindelof is excited about facing the Yorkshire club for the first time, not least because his fellow Sweden defender, Pontus Jansson, has become a cult hero with the Leeds fans since arriving in 2016.
“I’ve never played against them but I’ve heard about the rivalry with Leeds of course,” Victor said. “Even if it is a pre-season game, I think it’s going to be a tough one.
“I have a Swedish friend playing there so it’s also going to be fun. I’m looking forward to that game.”
Victor is embarking on his third pre-season as a United player after arriving at Old Trafford in the summer of 2017, and the Swede highlighted the importance of the coming weeks as the Reds prepare for the 2019/20 campaign.
“Pre-season is very important for the team," Victor affirmed. “New players come in and meet the group and I think it’s vital, especially this season, that we’re altogether in the beginning and work through things we want to do and the things we want to improve, so yeah I would say pre-season is very important.
“When I had just signed for the club, it was important for me to meet and bond with all the players and staff, see what what kind of personalities there are and see how the club worked. I really enjoyed it.”
Although Victor and his team-mates are not due to return to the Aon Training Complex until next Monday, 1 July, the players have been doing their own work during the break so they arrive back raring to go for pre-season training. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer outlined that expectation when he spoke ahead of our final game of last season.
“We are professionals," Victor said, "so even when we’re on holiday we still have to train and keep the fitness levels up.
“The most important thing in pre-season is to get minutes on the pitch, feel the rhythm of the game and work through the tactics, so that everyone knows exactly what we want to do.”
As well as Leeds United, the Reds will also play against local side Perth Glory in Australia before moving on to face Inter Milan in Singapore, Tottenham Hotspur in Shanghai, Kristiansund in Oslo and AC Milan in Wales before the new Premier League season gets under way on 11 August with United hosting Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Off the pitch, Victor is excited about meeting more of United's global fan base and believes that every game, while acting as an opportunity to gain match fitness, is an important one.
“It’s a huge, huge club and you see that when we go on tour. All the people want to see us play and even train and yeah, it’s amazing for us to travel the world and meet our fans and see how big and great this club is.
“I think all of the games are very important for us. Some teams are better than others, but it’s pre-season and all of the games are important for us.”
All six of Manchester United’s pre-season games will be available to watch live on MUTV, including the clashes with Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan and AC Milan.