Manchester United’s pre-season plans will be greatly affected by recent fears over the spread of the coronavirus.
The International Champions Cup has, predictably, decided to abandon any hopes of matches taking place on the Asian continent this summer, BBC Sport report. The tournament, which United have long played a part in, has been in Asia for the past five consecutive summers.
ICC 2020 will not be held in Asia
United played a whole host of games in Asia and Australia in the summer of 2019, coming up against Tottenham Hotspur, Leeds United and Inter Milan, winning all three.
This summer will be different. United are left with little option but to head west to the United States. With Asia ruled out, and almost certainly Australia too, the USA is the only real viable option. United will look to maximise on the commercial value of pre-season matches.
United likely to spend pre-season in USA
The Reds haven’t ventured to Africa since a tour to South Africa in 2012. The facilities just aren’t quite the same as at purpose-built centres in US cities such as Los Angeles and Dallas.
The club have begun to host pre-season fixtures in various spots around Europe. Last year that included one match in Norway as well as Cardiff, Wales. That may happen once again, but the main set of the pre-season ‘tour’ is likely to be in the USA.
Using Europe as a base for a pre-season tour could be something the club look into. But unlike the USA and Asia, Europe doesn’t give United the chance to play in front of merchandise-hungry supporters who rarely get to see their side in the flesh.
United’s first-ever overseas tour was in 1908. Ernest Mangnall took his side to Europe after winning a first league title. It ended in ugly scenes as upset, stone-throwing local fans chased United out of town following a big win.
United pre-season set to begin in mid-July
Should United head to USA, the tour should begin in mid-July. UEFA Euro 2020 doesn’t finish until July 12th. Some of United’s players could be involved up until the final. More importantly, it would make no sense to start pre-season with the tournament still going on.
The 2018 pre-season is perhaps best to look for clues on dates. United flew out to the USA on the day of the FIFA World Cup final.
They played their first game four days later on. A similar schedule would mean an opening warm-up game on July 16th, giving the Reds three weeks before the 2020/21 Premier League season starts on August 8th.
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