In a move that was not totally unexpected, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that players involved in the Euro 2012 tournament will join the club and make some appearances on the rest of the DHL tour, according to ManUtd.com. The next match on the tour is August 5 in Oslo, which means there will be a few more familiar faces on the United bench, and most likely on the pitch as well.
The DHL tour is a pretty grueling affair, because at the conclusion the squad will have played in South Africa, China, Norway, Germany, and Sweden, according to the Daily Mail, with the start of the Premier League due August 18. Traveling that many miles over three continents takes is a tiring affair, not matter how nice the accommodations are. The team really does not get a lot of rest, but I would think more importantly the team needs to train together and play together to develop some timing and experience.
Granted four players will be participating in the 2012 London Olympics, but at least they will have been playing football. Considering the new faces in the Manchester United lineup, like Kagawa, the Red Devils could benefit from a little bit of time in a match playing at game speed, even if it is a friendly. Developing top notch chemistry on the pitch will be the difference between champions and second place.
While sometimes I question the necessity of summer tour, it is nice for the club to get some exposure, generate some revenue, and share a little bit of entertainment with fans across the globe. Still, the EPL season is long, and factoring in other tournaments, like Euro or the Olympics, the guys will have played a lot of football over the course of the year. Fatigue is always a concern, because the team needs its stars to be ready to go once the official season is underway.
Having the entire team back together for the duration of the DHL tour is a great decision. It gives everyone a chance to get familiar with playing styles again, and also presents an opportunity for United to solidify as a unit. Of course, it also gives the fans that paid to see United's stars, like Rooney and Nani, a chance to see their favorite players, and the goodwill (an merchandise sales) that results from that can only be a positive thing.
Jason Gallagher is a long-time Manchester United fan, following the performances of the Red Devils since the days of Eric Cantona and David Beckham.