London - Louis van Gaal may be thousands of miles away in Brazil, but the Dutchman’s uncompromising approach is already being felt at Manchester United after the players were ordered to take part in an evening session on their second day of pre-season training.
While Van Gaal was preparing for Holland’s World Cup semi-final against Argentina in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, the United squad have been given the choice between going home to rest for three hours after training this afternoon or sleeping at Carrington before being put through a second workout starting at 5.30pm.
While double sessions are not uncommon in pre-season, training in the evening is unusual and a further indication that Van Gaal is ready to get tough to revive United’s fortunes.
The 62-year-old also wants England’s World Cup contingent to be on the team’s flight to California next week as United - who on Monday unveiled their new home kit to mark the beginning of a seven-year sponsorship deal with Chevrolet worth £326m - embark on their tour of the USA.
In the past, players have had a month off after major tournaments but the club are only contractually obliged to give them a three-week break and the new manager is keen for Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw to report for duty 24 days after England’s draw with Costa Rica.
Van Gaal’s new assistant coach Albert Stuivenberg was at Carrington on Monday for what was officially the first day of pre-season following medical and fitness tests last week, along with several other members of his Dutch coaching staff. Ryan Giggs is in charge while the Holland boss is in Brazil, and United’s assistant manager was first to arrive at training.
Giggs held meetings throughout the morning before the players trained in the afternoon.
Midfielder Ander Herrera, signed from Athletic Bilbao for £28m, was joined by the rest of the players not involved in the World Cup.