Wednesday 13 December 2017

Manchester United sleeping in Seattle as Louis van Gaal wins battle for shorter tour

Louis van Gaal and Manchester United will not be travelling long distances this summer
Louis van Gaal and Manchester United will not be travelling long distances this summer

Mark Ogden

Louis van Gaal has won his battle for less-demanding pre-season tour commitments at Manchester United.

The manager made a series of public complaints last summer about the organisation of the club's five-game tour of the United States. He was angered by travelling distances, kick-off times and the commercial demands placed on his players.

While Van Gaal accepts the need for the club to satisfy its many sponsors and partners by undertaking tours to the States and Far East, he has overseen every aspect of this summer's pre-season preparations after inheriting last year's gruelling trip from David Moyes, who had signed off the five-city trip.

Van Gaal's attention to detail has forced organisers of the International Champions Cup to delay confirmation of this summer's competition until he is satisfied with his team's arrangements. United beat Liverpool in the final of the inaugural tournament in Miami last August.

It is understood that United are now putting the finishing touches to a tour that will see them based on the west coast due to Van Gaal's desire to avoid the more humid and unpredictable weather on the east.

United have looked into basing themselves in Seattle, where they have previously utilised the state-of-the-art training facilities of the Seattle Seahawks. They would use the city as a base from which to fly in and out of match venues.

The club are committed to playing up to four games in the States, with the potential of fixtures against Barcelona and Juventus, on the understanding that Van Gaal and his squad return to Manchester by August 1 - a week before the start of the Premier League season.

United have traditionally embarked on three-week summer tours in non-tournament years. Moyes was forced to take his squad on a gruelling trip to Thailand, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong within weeks of succeeding Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson took his squad on similarly drawn-out tours to the States and Far East in 2011 and 2009 respectively, but United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has acquiesced to Van Gaal's wish for a more centralised two-week trip.

Last year, United began their tour in Los Angeles before moving on to Denver, Washington DC, Detroit and Miami. In Los Angeles, United officials were forced to book rooms at a Holiday Inn close to the training ground due to Van Gaal's annoyance that the hour-long journey back to the team's Beverly Hills hotel prevented players resting in between morning and afternoon sessions.

The former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach was also exasperated by United having to overcome altitude and temperatures in excess of 30C for a 2pm kick-off against AS Roma in Denver.

United could yet return to Denver this summer to contest the All-Star game against an MLS representative team, with opponents for the annual showpiece still to be announced.

Meanwhile, Manchester City have confirmed a friendly against FC Toronto in Canada - three days after the final game of the domestic season against Southampton.

City, who are also committed to a three-game pre-season tour of Australia, are expected to undertake a second fixture in North America during their post-season trip.

Manuel Pellegrini's team are likely to clock up most miles during the summer, although Chelsea could run them close if they confirm a post-season trip to Japan ahead of a pre-season tour of the United States.

Liverpool have confirmed plans to visit Malaysia and Australia in July, while Arsenal will compete in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore as part of the club's pre-season tour of the Far East. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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