Man Utd in overseas friendlies plan – is it worth the risk?
Louis van Gaal bans fitness staff from England duty, but may have to take team to Middle East
Perhaps Louis van Gaal knows which side his bread is buttered. After Manchester United won all six of their pre-season friendlies, five of them in the US, the club is now said to be keen on arranging some more.
The BBC reports that "lucrative fixtures overseas" are on the agenda at Old Trafford as a way of plugging the gap left by United's absence from the Champions League for the first time in 19 years.
A lack of European football and an early exit from the Capital One Cup means United are scheduled to play just three more midweek league games this season, says the BBC. And with so much space in the calendar, United's managing director Richard Arnold says arranging midweek friendlies is something the club will "continue to look at".
The Middle East "jaunt" looks like the most likely scenario, says The Times. "The 20-times English champions are sure to be a big draw and expensive summer signings, including Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao, have made the club even more attractive to supporters."
However, there could be resistance from Uefa, which does not take kindly to clubs organising fixtures which clash with its European schedule. Last season the FA was penalised financially for arranging domestic fixtures on Champions and Europa League nights.
And while the idea might appeal to Van Gaal in terms of improving his win ratio he might harbour reservations about what it could do to his squad, which is already riddled with injuries.
Ander Herrera is the latest on the treatment table. The midfielder had to come off against West Ham and United last night delayed issuing a statement on his condition, prompting speculation that he could be out for a while.
"With Wayne Rooney suspended for three matches following his red card in the game with West Ham, Van Gaal will not want to lose yet another player as he prepares for Everton's visit on Sunday," notes The Guardian.
The same paper also claims that Van Gaal has pulled rank on the England set up and withdrawn United fitness coach Tony Strudwick and masseur Rod Thornley from international duty. The pair have regularly helped out with the England set up, but their next international call-up will be their last.
With an "onerous injury list in mind, the United manager wants his staff to focus entirely on club duties and the Football Association has been made aware of that intention", says the paper.