Sure, preseason games aren’t always the most exciting. The pace is usually not at 100 percent and there are often see a lot of substitutions. But for Manchester United, the 2015 Tour in the United States is an important trip to get the new signings Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, and Matteo Darmian used to the system and gelling with the rest of the team.
United kicked off the 2015 preseason tour with a 1-0 win over Mexican side Club America in Seattle in front of 46,857 fans at CenturyLink Field. Schneiderlin scored the lone goal of the game in the fifth minute as his header beat Hugo Gonzalez in the Club America net. It was a great start for Schneiderlin who joined United from Southampton on July 13 for around $37 million.
The first half 11 for United against Club America consisted of:
Johnstone, Darmian, Jones, Blind, Shaw, Mata, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Young, Memphis, Rooney.
The second half 11 was the following:
Lindegaard, McNair, Smalling, Evans, Blackett, Lingard, Schweinsteiger, Herrera, Pereira, Januzaj, Wilson.
Together with the other central midfield signing Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin will play a key part in United’s lineup in the upcoming season. With Michael Carrick getting older and having injury troubles, the signings of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger were crucial for manager Louis van Gaal. Without Carrick on the field, Untied struggled as they didn’t have any player that go in and fill his role.
The tour continues with games against the San Jose Earthquakes, FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. First, they will take on San Jose on Tuesday in the Bay Area at Avaya Stadium. Just like in the game against Club America, United will switch out the whole 11 at halftime. Then on Saturday, they will go up against Lionel Messi and Barcelona at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The final game of the tour will be on July 29 against PSG in Chicago at Soldier Field.
Going away on a tour like United has been doing for several years now is a great opportunity for the team to band together and gel as a group. They get to do some tourist type things outside of soccer, and in the United States they won’t be bothered as much when they are out in public like in Asia or Europe.
Van Gaal has most likely already some pretty strong ideas of who will be in the starting 11 when they kick off the regular season on Aug 8 against Tottenham Hotspur, but players have a chance now to show the manager that they deserve a shot — especially the youngsters who wants to prove they are ready for a spot on the roster.
United have brought along several interesting players on the tour in addition to the new signings. Young talents like Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira and James Wilson will have ample time to show they deserve to be in the running for a spot on the bench. Wilson played in a couple games last season and is one of the most highly-touted prospects at United.
With Robin van Persie and Falcao gone, United have two striker spots open, and Wilson has a very good chance of seeing even more playing time this season. United are rumored to be on the market for another forward, with Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller as one of the names mentioned.
David de Gea and Antonio Valencia had minor injuries and were held from play against Club America.
Van Gaal explained to media after the win over Club America how he looks at the preseason tour.
“We use this tournament for our match rhythm, to build it up. So we play the next match against San Jose and we will also play 45 minutes for all of the players. That is our philosophy and then we will play 60 minutes and 30 minutes,” said van Gaal. “Maybe in the last match we will play for 90 minutes, or use another team to play for 60 minutes. That I don’t know. I have to read the data of the players. But our plan is to play the next game with 22 players.”
The preseason tour is part of the International Champions Cup that takes place in North America, Australia and China.
Daley Blind played as a central defender against Club America and van Gaal also spoke about the possibility for Blind to play at that position long-term.
“It could be. Marcos Rojo is not here. He shall also come on 25 July. I want to play always with a left-footed central defender and Blind can do the job. Maybe he shall play there but all the players can play there,” said van Gaal. “Last year it was Jones and Smalling, and even McNair has played there. But my preference is a left-footed defender and with Rojo and Blind we have two.”
United are rumored to still be on the market for a central defender and Nicolas Otamendi’s name has come up on several occasions. Barcelona’s Pedro is another name that has been floating around if United wants to strengthen up the wings, as rumors about Angel Di Maria’s departure keeps popping up.