MANCHESTER UNITED TOUR DIARY: Erik ten Hag clamps down on players
MANCHESTER UNITED TOUR DIARY: Hands-on Erik ten Hag clamps down and orders his players to eat EVERY meal together at swanky Bangkok hotel, with new boss also conducting brutal training sessions himself in a bid to impose his philosophy on the squad
- Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has been taking training in Bangkok
- United are preparing for a pre-season game against Liverpool on Tuesday
- Players have been on a rota to go out and sign autographs for fans in Thailand
- The club have cut travelling numbers to reduce costs with 120 people on the trip
- CEO Richard Arnold is not in the group, but could join 16-day tour soon
Manchester United touched down in Bangkok in a Boeing 747 operated by Texas-based company Atlas which is kitted out to business-class standards to transport US sports teams in style.
United had to change their carrier after ditching club sponsor Aeroflot in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine whose airspace has been closed to civilian flights since February. Some club staff on the flight were a little relieved to see the plane’s flight path divert around the war zone on the 13-hour journey to Thailand.
United have reduced their travelling party in recent years to cut costs with around 120 on the 16-day trip which also takes in Melbourne and Perth.
Manager Erik ten Hag and his Manchester United squad arrived in Thailand yesterday
The squad have been training ahead of their opening friendly against Liverpool on Tuesday
The first game against Liverpool at the 60,000-capacity Rajamangala National Stadium on Tuesday is sold out, as is United’s final tour match against Aston Villa in Perth. More than 70,000 tickets have been sold for the games against Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace at the MCG, although United are hoping that figure will rise when they land in Australia.
UNITED ON TOUR
Liverpool (Bangkok) – July 12
Melbourne Victory (Melbourne) – July 15
Crystal Palace (Melbourne) – July 19
Aston Villa (Perth) – July 23
Such is the demand for autographs from United’s stars that the club have put them on a rota to please local Thai fans.
Players are appearing three at a time and David de Gea, Donny van de Beek and Amad Diallo had a 10-minute signing session after training at the STB Academy on Sunday morning.
United are taking up two floors of their swanky city centre hotel but have been mixing freely with other guests. However, the club’s popularity in the Far East and preparations for the Liverpool game mean the players will not have as much free time to themselves in Bankgkok as they will in Australia.
They have been ordered by new manager Erik ten Hag to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together at the hotel with no exceptions.
True to his reputation, Ten Hag has been hands-on in training with observers describing him as ‘like a conductor’ alongside his assistant managers Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren.
Sources insist the Dutchman does have a lighter side but training has been intense as he tries to impose his coaching philosophy on the players.
Richard Arnold may have found himself the centre of attention when addressing fans at his local pub last month, but United’s new CEO is happy to let chief operating officer Collette Roche lead the delegation on the first tour since he replaced Ed Woodward.
United were greeted by a large group of fans upon their arrival in the Thailand capital
ten Hag has been employing a hands-on, intense brand of training at the club
United have not ruled out Arnold appearing on the trip, but he has stayed at Old Trafford to attend to club business along with football director John Murtough.
Arnold’s decision is typical of a man who is happy to keep a lower profile than Woodward and delegate to his staff.
Mike Phelan is not on the trip after Ten Hag brought in his own backroom team of Van der Gaag and McClaren, but United are in talks to offer the 59-year-old – who served as No.2 to both Sir Alex Ferguson and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – an ambassadorial role with the club.
Mike Phelan is set to be offered an ambassadorial role after spells as assistant manager
Bryan Robson, Andy Cole, Denis Irwin, Wes Brown and Ferguson’s old kit man Albert Morgan are the official ambassadors on this trip.
United players are free to wear whatever watches they want on club business for the first time since 2016 after a sponsorship deal with TAG Heuer came to an end.
Until now, the players have been bound by the deal which was announced on the ill-fated tour to Beijing six years ago at an unveiling attended by Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford, Ashley Young and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
MAN UNITED PRE-SEASON SQUAD
1 De Gea
34 Van de Beek
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