HOUSTON – While the MLS All-Star training sessions may have been characterized by a low intensity levels, Manchester United were flying in their Tuesday night practice window at Reliant Stadium ahead of the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday.
High speed combination and finishing skills were followed by a fast-paced nine-vs-nine intrasquad match featuring one goalkeeper, Edwin van der Sar. This Manchester United are clearly a squad in preseason training, where every session is conducted to the maximum.
There was even a hard Ryan Giggs tackle on teammate and right back Rafael, which drew a moan from the 500 supporters on hand to witness the practice at Reliant. It’s that sort of energy that Sir Alex Ferguson says he wants to see from the very start against the MLS All-Stars.
“Going into the Kansas City game [Sunday], I think we were feeling the effects of the heat in Philadelphia and mentally they weren’t sharp,” Ferguson told media in the middle of the Tuesday evening training. “Against Kansas City, we were very ragged with the ball and didn’t have any fluency with our play and that is something we always look for. We try to get that fluency before the season starts.”
The Manchester United manager was not able to confirm the status of players carrying injury, like John O’Shea, Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes. Ferguson said he would wait to see how they emerged from the practice session.
Meanwhile, the loudest cheers from the fans in attendance were directed at new Red Devils Mexican forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who was in his second training session with his new team. It was confirmed that he would play no more than 30 minutes in the All-Star Game on Wednesday.
“In fairness to the boy himself, he’s just back from the World Cup and, although he’s coming quite fit, to come into a game of this nature, I think the best we can do is 30 minutes,” Ferguson said.
Hernandez was paired with Dimitar Berbatov in the intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday. Mame Biram Diouf, Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda constituted the trio combination on the opposite side.
After the high energy session, each and every one of the Manchester United players were gracious enough and good-spirited to sign autographs for fans gathered on one side of the stadium. But by game time on Wednesday, there will be no more Mr. Nice Guys against the MLS All-Stars.
“We have to prepare ourselves and make it very difficult since they [MLS All-Stars] have a good record against English teams, and that is a challenge for us,” Ferguson said. "But we’re good at that."