As United prepare to take on Dundee in their first friendly of pre-season while in La Manga, boss Paul Hurst has spoken about the week-long training camp in Spain as a whole.
Scunthorpe face the Scottish Championship outfit for their first warm-up game at 11am UK time on Friday, and the manager explained that there will be a different side playing in each half as he looks to give a minimum of 45 minutes’ game time to each player.
Hurst told iFollow Iron: “I’m looking forward to it and seeing how we get on. It’s the first one. I haven’t got a best XI in mind at this point anyway, but there will be mixed teams and a chance to show what they’re about in a game situation, and not against their own players, which favours defenders often because they know more about who they’re playing against and are used to the tricks that the lads can produce.
“In the short time we’ve been with them we’ve looked at a couple of different systems, to emphasise some points and principles we’ll want the players to take on board. Some of those messages have been constant throughout the training session so hopefully they can take that on board and produce what we ask of them.
“One or two will play longer but in general it will be 45 minutes. Dundee drew with Nottingham Forest the other day, so they’re probably ahead in terms of that. We want to put a good account on and it’s the first chance in a game against opposition for the players to impress.
“I did say to them that I’ll have to make some pretty quick decisions. Probably quicker than would be absolutely ideal, but that’s part and parcel of my job and I’ll have to make those. I’ve told them not to leave anything to chance or come to me and say they’ll get a lot better in time. I want the best they can produce at this moment, albeit I’m sure everyone will improve as we move forward.”
Talking about the week as a whole, the boss stated: “It’s been good and I’ve enjoyed it. I think they’ve found it tough, as they should. Pre-season, as everyone knows, is about working hard to get a base of fitness and that will continue when we get back.
“Overall, it’s good to get away and isolated with the players and group, and there’s been bonding going on, although most of the players will already know each other so that should be there anyway.
“There are new voices and new instruction from myself and Chris (Doig, assistant manager), and it gives us two a chance to know everybody better as well.
“I did a presentation on the first day back to the players, and the staff were in there, while I also spoke to them a couple of days earlier and outlined what I expect from everyone.
“Words are easy to say, but I’ve got to live up to those demands and promises I’ve made in terms of what I’ll commit to them as people. It’s easier on the training ground and when you put things into practice that the players know you mean what you’ve got to say.
“I’m sure some of them will have been in contact with players we’ve had previously and there will be a little bit of ‘good luck, it’s hard work!’. It’s like that for a reason though, and it’s for us all to be successful.
“The hard work has certainly begun and we’ve also started to know what makes people tick and their backgrounds, so we can hopefully become one very tight unit and, when we need to, we’ll have each other’s backs, and fight and scrap, and hopefully play some good football as well.
“Some sessions have been better than others. Most days it’s been triple sessions with either a bike ride, run or the pool in the morning. There has been football every day as well, and obviously a lot of running because a large part of the game is running and you’re often not with the ball. We’re not asking them to do something that’s not expected of them on game day.
“Overall, the attitudes have been good and the last couple of days have seen them continuously improve and get used to what we want. Each day you get that little bit fitter, albeit at times there will be aching legs. Certainly going into the Dundee game, it’s not about the result, but getting minutes in the leg. We’re not going into it fresh, that’s not what it’s about at this stage, it’s about getting used to the match situation again and getting more fitness.”
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