MANCHESTER UNITED TOUR DIARY: Erik ten Hag cracks down and orders players to eat ALL meals together
MANCHESTER UNITED TOUR DIARY: Erik ten Hag practices and orders his players to eat ALL meals together at a swanky Bangkok hotel, with the new boss staging brutal training sessions himself in a bid to impose his philosophy on the club ‘crew
- Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag trained in Bangkok
- United are preparing for a pre-season game against Liverpool on Tuesday
- Players were rotated to go out and sign autographs for fans in Thailand
- The club has reduced the number of travelers to cut costs with 120 people traveling
- CEO Richard Arnold is not in the group, but could soon join a 16-day tour
Manchester United landed in Bangkok in a Boeing 747 operated by Texas-based Atlas, which is outfitted to business class standards to fly American sports teams in style.
United had to change carriers after dropping club sponsor Aeroflot following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, whose airspace has been closed to civilian flights since February. Some club staff on the flight were somewhat relieved to see the plane’s flight path diverted around the war zone on the 1pm trip to Thailand.
United has reduced its group of travelers in recent years to cut costs with around 120 people on the 16-day trip which also includes Melbourne and Perth.
Manager Erik ten Hag and his Manchester United team arrived in Thailand yesterday
The squad trained ahead of their first 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 game of the tour against Aston Villa in Perth. More than 70,000 tickets have been sold for games against Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace at the MCG, although United hope that figure will increase 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 stars that the club have rotated them to appeal to local Thai fans.
The players appear 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 occupies two floors of its chic downtown hotel, but mixes freely with other guests. However, the club’s popularity in the Far East and Liverpool’s match preparations mean players won’t have as much free time in Bankgkok as in Australia.
New manager Erik ten Hag ordered them to have breakfast, lunch and dinner together at the hotel without exception.
True to his reputation, Ten Hag underwent hands-on training with observers describing him as “like a conductor” alongside his assistant managers Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren.
Sources insist the Dutchman has a lighter side but the training has been intense as he tries to impose his coaching philosophy on the players.
Richard Arnold may have found himself the center of attention when he addressed fans in his local pub last month, but United’s new CEO is happy to let chief operating officer Collette Roche leading the delegation on the first tour since replacing Ed Woodward.
United were greeted by a large group of fans upon arriving in the Thai capital
ten Hag employed a practical and intense brand of training at the club
United have not ruled out Arnold taking part in the trip, but he has remained at Old Trafford to take care of club business with director of football 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 isn’t 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 a No.2 at Sir Alex Ferguson and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – an ambassadorial role with the club.
Mike Phelan set to be offered ambassador role after stints as assistant manager
Bryan Robson, Andy Cole, Denis Irwin, Wes Brown and former Ferguson kitman Albert Morgan are the official ambassadors for this trip.
United players are free to wear the watches of their choice on club business for the first time since 2016 after a sponsorship deal with TAG Heuer ended.
Until now, the players were bound by the deal announced during the ill-fated Beijing tour six years ago at an unveiling attended by Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford, Ashley Young and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
MAN UNITED PRE-SEASON TEAM
1 De Gea
29 Wan Bissaka
34 Van de Beek