MANCHESTER UNITED’S players shrugged aside the incredible fixture jam awaiting them as they trained with the intensity manager Erik ten Hag demands.
Key midfielder Casemiro was back and buzzing in training after missing Man Utd’s 3-0 defeat at Arsenal on sunday[/caption]
Brandon Williams and injury-hit fellow defender Axel Tuanzebe have struggled for game-time for different reasons under Erik ten Hag[/caption]
Harry Maguire leads Brandon Williams, Anthony Elanga and Tyrell Malacia as the Red Devils prepare for an amazing period of fixture congestion[/caption]
Facundo Pellistri, Jadon Sancho and Alejandro Garnacho go through their paces at Carrington Training Ground[/caption]
In fact, United will have played ten matches in 32 days by the end of February, starting with Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Nottingham Forest.
Next come Saturday’s FA Cup home clash with Reading, the return with Forest on February 1 and the Premier League visit of Crystal Palace three days later.
Ten Hag is unsure when Sancho, 22, will be back in contention following the England winger’s physical and psychological issues.
But injury-plagued centre-back Tuanzebe, 25, did some light training two days before the first cup contest with Forest.
Casemiro too was a welcome sight for Ten Hag.
The Brazilian anchorman was badly missed due to his one-game suspension as United suffered a late 3-2 loss at Arsenal on Sunday.
That sparked fiery words from Ten Hag over the Red Devils’ lack of resilience in the closing minutes.
The Dutchman said: “I am annoyed and I told the players if you want to win titles and medals, you have to change the mentality.
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“We’ve already seen how the mentality of the players has changed over the last couple of months. But we have noticed that we still have a way to go to get to the top level.
“They have to realise a game is only finished when the ref blows.”
Just how tough United are will become much clearer by February 26.
After opening with a four-game burst, they then have a double header with Leeds in the Prem on February 8 and 12, home then away.
They visit Barcelona in the Europa League on Thursday February 16, entertain Leicester in the Prem three days later and take on Barca again on February 23.
Finally, three afternoons later, they meet Brentford in the Prem at Old Trafford – a return of the August 13 clash where the Bees led 4-0 after 35 minutes and won by the same scoreline.