Manchester United’s pre-season will properly start when Louis van Gaal returns from Brazil after the Netherlands’ 2014 World Cup campaign is over.
The 62-year-old Dutchman was confirmed as the Red Devils boss in May and has yet to properly gauge the players he has available for next season.
Of course, one would suspect that he already has a good idea of his team and knows which players are not suitable for him.
However, the pre-season will be a chance for many of United’s under-performing stars of last season to try to impress their new manager and ensure that their futures at Old Trafford remain safe.
Darren Fletcher is one of the players who will be keen on making a good first impression on Van Gaal.
Having fully recovered from his long-term illness, the 30-year-old Scotland international midfielder has admitted that he is determined to have a good pre-season and get into the grooves of things.
The Manchester Evening News quotes him as saying: ‘Once you get on that pitch it’s competitive and you always want to win every game and every tournament you’re involved in... It’s what you want as you want to make an impression and impress the fans and the manager because you want to be in the team for the start of the season’.
Fletcher has put into words what many of his teammates must be thinking: impress Van Gaal and secure a place in the starting line-up.
Last season, a host of United players failed to hit form for a variety of reasons, and now they have to improve quickly.
Of course, David Moyes shouldered the blame and was sacked as the club’s manager before the season even ended, but Van Gaal, having been dismissed by more than one club, would know better than most that players were also at fault.
Which is why this pre-season the United players will have to step up and treat it like they are fighting for their futures.
Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw have already been signed by United and more players are likely to come. This means that competition will be tough, and the players who are unable to rise to the occasion will be in trouble.