• Solskjaer has spoken previously about the lack of fitness among the players he inherited from Jose Mourinho.
• Juan Mata tops United’s running stats, covering an average of seven miles per game.
Manchester United players have been given strict training programmes for their summer holidays — and been told to reach peak fitness before they return to pre-season training on July 1.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to war over a perceived lack of physical conditioning in the United squad that sees them languishing 29 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.
And United’s manager is so serious about licking his star players into shape, anyone who doesn’t follow their fitness schedules won’t be taken on the tour of Australia and the Far East. “They have all got their programmes to do over the summer. We expect them to be ready to go on July 1 when we start. We’re not going to use the first 10 days to build them up, they should be ready to go,” Solskjaer warned.
“We have a longer summer break than any of the other challengers and have to use that as an advantage. It’s not like a threat, but whoever is not ready on July 1 will probably stay here and not travel with us. We only want players we can use over there.
“They all have individual programmes. Some need strength, some need cardio-vascular stuff. In the past, I saw some of the young lads who had a chance to go with the first team come back in a state — and they know who they are. They aren’t playing football any more at the level they should be. They own their own fate, to be fair.”
Solskjaer has spoken previously about the lack of fitness among the players he inherited from Jose Mourinho. “We’ve got to work harder,’ he said after being given the manager’s job full-time in March. ‘I wouldn’t want a Man United team that’s not one of the fittest and hardest working in the league.”
Juan Mata tops United’s running stats, covering an average of seven miles per game, with Romelu Lukaku, Phil Jones and Anthony Martial towards the bottom end of the scale. Record signing Paul Pogba is another player whose fitness has been questioned. Luke Shaw was criticised by previous managers as being overweight, but this season was named the fans’ player of the year.
As well as their pre-season tour, United have the added complication of starting their Europa League campaign on July 25, should Watford upset Manchester City in the FA Cup final. But Solskjaer says staying in Perth, Western Australia, between July 8 and 18 will provide the right environment to train properly for the new season.
“I think the tour has been structured quite well,” he said. “Of course there are some flights, but I don’t think it will be a problem.
“If you meet hurdles, do you want to creep under them or jump over? I am one who loves challenges. The staff love challenges. When you sign for Man United that’s what you sign up for, to rise to these challenges. “If we can get the momentum early on I’m sure we can catch a few teams.”