Manchester United Summer Preseason Tour In South Africa


Nelson Mandela and Sir Alex Ferguson in South Africa

Manchester United Summer Preseason Tour In South Africa

Man United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson gave a press conference at the team’s beachfront hotel in the Durban suburb of Umhlanga.

Man Utd footballers have been involved in the 2012 London Olympics, at Euro 2012, on an extended break, and staying in Manchester to recover from injury, Ferguson brought a ­unique squad to South Africa. Established players like Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Javier Hernandez were joined by emerging youngsters like Robbie Brady, Jesse Lingard and Scott Wootton.

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Although superstar Wayne Rooney was absent, as well as Team GB captain Ryan Giggs, Ferguson said the tour was a chance for new talent to flourish.

“The only disappointment for many fans is that they won’t see the likes of Rooney, Ashley Young and Phil Jones; the ones who played at Euro 2012,” said Ferguson. “Naturally, it’s ­impossible to bring them out after such an emotional ­competition.

“But there’s an ­interesting thing with this squad. I remember when I first started playing the young players back 1994.

“We played Port Vale in a League Cup game and I played all the youngsters – Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes.

“An MP from Stoke protested to the Government, saying we were cheating the public and they wanted their money back.

“Little did she know, she was watching perhaps the greatest group of young players to come through at any club in England.

“The same applies here. Although we have Rio, Carrick, Antonio Valencia and Chicharito here, it’s an opportunity to see some young potential at this club coming through.

“And we won’t be treating this lightly. We never do. It’s an ­important start to our season after last year’s disappointment.

“Hopefully, we’ll see a good match here. The players are ready – they’ve trained for maybe 10 days now, so they need a game.

“Obviously, the ­experienced players are the priority. We need to get their fitness correct. “The first thing we try and do with pre-season is get everybody fit and get back home without any injuries. That’s a vital issue. “When we go back home, the players who were involved in the Euros will also have the ­opportunity to play three games in Norway, Sweden and Germany.”

Recent United signing Shinji Kagawa, a £17million buy from Borussia Dortmund, made his United debut against AmaZula, playing off lone striker ­Hernandez.

“It’s likely Kagawa will start with ­Chicharito. Rio, Carrick, Scholes and Valencia will all play, too. “Then there are all the younger players. Lingard will play and young Brady is in at left-back.”

Ferguson stated that the main aim of the tour would be to get experienced players fit.

“The priority is to get the experienced players fit, but young players will play in each game,” he added. “It’s likely that Kagawa will start with Chicharito.

“Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes will play. So too Anders Lindegaard, Jesse Lingard and Robbie Brady at left-back. Antonio Valencia will play. “Young Robbie Brady will be at left-back. He’s actually an outside-left but we believe there’s the possibility he’ll develop into a left-back. He was on loan last year at Hull City and did very well. He’ll certainly figure at left-back.

“I don’t know how many substitutes will be allowed – we need to establish that – but I’m sure we can be flexible. It’s important the young players get a chance to play on such a big occasion. The 70-year-old admitted that he would be paying particular attention to Brady, who could be involved with the first team this season after Fabio was sent out on loan to QPR.

“Left-back is an area which we’re paying attention to,” Ferguson explained. “Patrice [Evra], in the last five years, has played an average of 45-50 games. It’s phenomenal. I don’t know if anybody else has achieved that. He’s still a fit lad and has the same drive and ambition. He’s a fighter.

“Fabio went to QPR, which was so important for the boy because he has enormous ability, but he needs to play. Because Evra, touch wood, is never injured, the opportunities haven’t been there for the boy. “He played a few games last season but it’s not enough for a young boy of 21 years. He needed to continue with his progress. With Fabio at QPR for a year, we’re just a little short in that department.

“That’s why we’re trying Robbie Brady at left-back. We also have Tyler Blackett here – he’s a big, strong boy, tall and quick going forward. But he’s only just turned 18. He has time on his side but he’s here for the experience and may yet surprise us.”

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