Manchester United flops face early return for pre-season on July 1 after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left dismayed by squad’s fitness levels
- Man United’s squad ‘will return to pre-season training on July 1’ this summer
- Absence of World Cup or European Championship permits earlier start
- Plus manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was dismayed by poor fitness levels
- Solskjaer is determined to improve the players’ fitness with rigorous pre-season
- But plans could be thrown into havoc by Europa League qualifying rounds
Manchester United ‘will return for pre-season training as early as July 1’ after manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left dismayed by his squad’s fitness levels.
Though a small number of players will be on duty at the Copa America, the absence of a World Cup or European Championship this summer means Solskjaer could have most of his squad back for training by the start of July.
According to ESPN, Solskjaer and his assistant Mike Phelan were astonished by the squad’s low fitness levels when they assumed interim charge in December following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left unimpressed by the fitness levels of the Man United squad
United slumped to a sixth place finish in the Premier League after a terrible end to the season
And they are determined this won’t happen again after a disappointing sixth place finish in the Premier League that saw United miss out on next season’s Champions League.
Solskjaer had already introduced a more rigorous fitness regimen and this gained immediate dividends as United won 10 of Solskjaer’s first 11 games in charge.
However, they hit the wall in the end in a disastrous conclusion to the season that saw them win just twice in 12 matches across all competitions.
Solskjaer and his assistant Mike Phelan were left dismayed by the fitness levels of the players
Man United pre-season schedule
July 13: Perth Glory (Optus Stadium, Perth) TBC
July 17: Leeds United (Optus Stadium, Perth) TBC
July 20: Inter Milan (International Champions Cup – Singapore National Stadium, Kallang) 12.30pm
July 25: Tottenham Hotspur (International Champions Cup – Hongkou Stadium, Shanghai) 12.30pm
August 3: AC Milan (International Champions Cup – Principality Stadium) 5.30pm
United would have to cancel their pre-season match against Tottenham if Watford win the FA Cup on Saturday.
That’s because they would have to begin in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, the first leg of which is scheduled for July 25. The second leg is on August 1.
The third qualifying round is scheduled for August 8 and 15, while the play-off round will be held on August 22 and 29.
United may have to play six matches before they reach the group stage of the competition.
A United source told ESPN: ‘The players weren’t fit enough when Ole arrived. They worked really hard to change that in December and January but they hit the wall in the end, and that was probably inevitable.’
The squad may have little choice but to make an early return to pre-season training as their schedule of friendlies and tour matches could be thrown into chaos by the outcome of Saturday’s FA Cup final.
Solskjaer replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho as Manchester United manager in December
If Watford beat Manchester City at Wembley, United will have to enter the UEFA Europa League in the second qualifying round, which is scheduled for July 25.
That is the same day United are playing Tottenham in Shanghai in the International Champions Cup. Their first pre-season match is against Perth Glory on July 13.
If that is the case, United will have to go through six qualifying games before they reach the Europa League group stage.
They will start a round later if City win the FA Cup.