Finally after weeks of watching dross like Lionel Messi, Neymar and Harry Kane chasing after some meaningless trophy we can get back to the serious business of watching United and what better way to do it than at 3AM in the morning?
After a season last year where I felt United brought a lot to the table, allowing me to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and a future where the Reds could challenge for trophies, many saw things differently. Last season we saw players being heavily criticised and even calls for Mourinho to be sacked last season. Going into the new campaign will be a real test for United to see if they have done enough to keep up with the big names of European football and that mob down the road.
Over the years United have had some impressive pre-season victories, ones that have given us the chance to not only get excited about new signings but also get one over on some of our rivals – there’s nothing ‘meaningless’ about playing the likes of City and Liverpool – unless we lose of course. Last year they got off to a flying start with a 5-2 victory over LA Galaxy. The squad then went on to beat Real Salt Lake, which saw Romelu Lukaku score his first Manchester United goal.
Many United fans will also remember the USA tour of 2014, which saw the Louis Van Gaal era set off with a bang. The team won all six of their games which included a thrilling 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy with goals coming from the likes of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young.
United also set a record for the largest crowd to ever watch a football game in the US with 109,318 fans turning out for their International Championships Cup clash with Real Madrid in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which the Reds won 3-1 thanks to goals from Young and Javier Hernandez.
It was a tour where United also had victories over Internazionale, Roma and Liverpool in the final of the competition, thanks to goals from Rooney, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.
Pre-season tours of the past have also provided a stage for United players who never quite managed to translate their pre-season performances into Premier League successes, eventually disappearing from the bright lights of Old Trafford for pastures that were seldom greener.
One example that springs to mind is Federico Macheda. The Italian spent six years at United, but spent a lot of that time out on loan. For the Reds he always performed well in pre-season, scoring six times in three consecutive pre-season tours. However his skill never seemed to fully convert to his Premier League performances and he was eventually released in 2014 after 36 appearances and five goals, although one of those goals will forever endear him to United fans everywhere, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell him which one.
Almost 10 years ago a certain Frenchman burst onto the scene who did not go by the name Paul Pogba. Many may have blocked him from memory but how could we forget Gabriel Obertan? After joining in 2009, he suffered spinal injuries but was praised for his pre-season performance the following season where he scored United’s only goal in their victory over Philadelphia Union. However Obertan, like Macheda, was never able to replicate this in the league and eventually joined Newcastle United in 2011. He’s currently entertaining the masses in the dizzy heights of the Bulgarian First League with Levski Sofia.
However, there is one United player who made his mark in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 pre-season tours that still has a chance to emulate his performances in the league, Andreas Pereira. Although he made his Premier League debut in 2015, the midfielder clearly needed some additional experience and has been on loan in Granada and Valencia recently. However with United lacking players this year thanks to the World Cup, this could be Pereira’s golden ticket to impress Mourinho.
For fans pre-season tours are a football warm up, the perfect way to build up to a new Premier League season. However, it is not just a football holiday for the team and a chance to see new signings, but an opportunity for United to hit the ground running. This will be a chance for Mourinho to test drive a large amount of his squad and to also investigate just who will make the cut in the manager’s third, and arguably most important season.