It’s been a far from impressive set of performances as Manchester united joined the other big European clubs hawking their wares around the world in a series of what are called pre-season friendlies, but in effect are purely commercial enterprises. The games are all about raising profile, merchandising and keeping mega-bucks sponsors onside. Should a series of tepid performances by the Premier League champions therefore be a cause for concern to the Old Trafford faithful?
Manchester United ended their pre-season tour with a 1-1 draw against Swedish side AIK at the Friends Arena in Stockholm. It was again, not a performance to quicken the heartbeat and convince the fans, but two things must be remembered. Firstly, the games have been a massive learning curve for both coach and squad as they get to understand each other. Sure, I know that other clubs, Chelsea and Manchester City also have new coaches on board, but the change at Manchester United is of another magnitude entirely. After twenty-odd years of Ferguson-fueled ethos, the man is no longer there and the sea change at the club will be a wave of tsunami size, so a ‘getting into the club’ period will be inevitable for David Moyes as he seeks to steady a boat on choppy seas.
Secondly, these games are hardly deemed as competitive. Manchester United, very much like the other clubs on their globe-trotting tours are looking at squads, not teams. It’s all about establishing who are the guys that we’ll keep, who may go out on loan and who may need to be replaced. It’s not a time for coherent well-drilled team performances. These are, after all, glorified exhibition games, when things tried out, new systems tested and players assessed.
So, United fans, now isn’t the time to get panicky. City have not exactly set the world on fire with their pre-season performances either, Arsenal have not been overly convincing, and they’ve spent most of their time at home. Pre-season games, are exactly that. The only indicator of Premier League form will be when the first game kicks off in just over a week. At that stage, teams can be judged. David Moyes is no novice in this field. United will be ready.