From conceding the most number of goals to accumulating the least amount of points, Manchester United had a season to forget. No supporter could have seen such an end to the campaign especially after witnessing the arrival of world-class talent in the form of stars like Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane. With Erik ten Hag handed the reins at Old Trafford, fans will be hopeful that the Dutchman can transform the fortunes of the club as well as its under-performing stars.
France World Cup winner Varane, who was bought to strengthen the defence by former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, will be the first to admit that the previous campaign was not his finest.
From winning Champions Leagues to La Liga titles during his Madrid stint, the centre back was considered among the top defenders in the world. But he rarely manged to live up to the hype in the red of Manchester, with recurrent injuries also playing a major part.
He was restricted to only 29 appearances in all competitions. Recently, the France international was forced off during national team duty but it is not believed to be too serious and should be available to join the club’s pre-season schedule on time.
Ten Hag and his coaching team, comprising Steve McClaren and Mitchell van der Gaag, believe in a rigorous pre-season and lots of training. Former Utrecht goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter had attested to his intense demands in an interview with i, calling it a “shock and awe” approach, while Donny Van De Beek had also spoken of the new boss’ demanding methods to his United teammates.
This is something that will no doubt help the 29-year-old, who had admitted towards the back end of the season that he needed a full pre-season to regain top fitness.
“We’ll have to prepare for the new season, and I think it’s important for us to train hard and be ready,” he told club media.
“We want to be ready for the new season. We need to work very hard and there will be a lot of training sessions, and a lot of games, so I think it will be interesting and a great moment to work very hard and to prepare for the season,” the defender reiterated.
A new start
The former Real Madrid man revealed how excited the entire squad is to work with the Dutchman and the goal this time around is to do much better than last time around.
“It’s a new season, it’s a new start, so everyone is excited to know about the new manager. Obviously, we want to do well and win every game,” he added.
The Red Devils pre-season schedule is set to kick off on June 27th, with most stars expected back except for players who played in the recent bout of international fixtures for their respective countries. They will then jet off to Thailand to face arch rivals Liverpool before heading Down Under and clashing against Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.
The 20-time English champions will then return to Europe to take on Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in Norway before wrapping up preparations at home against Rayo Vallecano.
Apart from a variety of opponents and an extensive number of games, the other appeal for United players will be the chance to play in front of the club’s massive global fan base. This is something Varane will experience for the first time since joining the English giants.
“I think it’s always exciting to play in front of our fans around the world, it’s a good experience for us, and it’s a good moment to prepare for the season,” he acknowledged.