Man United boss Erik Ten Hag takes first training session with Ronaldo, other big stars missing

Erik ten Hag was leading his first training session as Manchester United head coach when his new squad – or at least part of it – reported back for the pre-season on Monday.

The Dutchman was joined by Sir Alex Ferguson’s former No.2 Steve McClaren and Mitchell van der Gaag as the new coaching staff made their maiden speech to the United players on the Carrington pitch, although the group still looked a little worn with some big hitters absent on vacation.

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Indeed, the modest group of 19 included several players who are unlikely to start the 2022-23 season at United, having fallen out of favor under previous regimes and being loaned elsewhere last year.

Both Anthony Martial and Donny van Beek were in attendance, although the pair mustered just 280 minutes of Premier League football for United in 2021-22 before ending the season at Everton and Sevilla respectively.

Among Ten Hag’s meager crew were Axel Tuanzebe, Phil Jones, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams, all of whom were also reportedly touted for possible summer departures as well.

Notable absences from United on the first day of pre-season included Cristiano Ronaldo, who is still enjoying his summer vacation after the post-season round of internationals against Portugal.

As you might expect, he doesn’t spend his last hours of rest and relaxation enjoying the sun’s rays by the pool in Mallorca. Instead, he has been on the soccer field with his son Cristiano Jr. in the sweltering heat as the couple prepare for the new season together.

Elsewhere, club captain Harry Maguire will miss the start of pre-season training at United after getting married in a lavish ceremony at a luxurious chateau in the south of France last weekend.

Players like Bruno Fernandes and Raphael Varane were among the absentees from the first-team who were granted extended leave by United, while both Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba are currently in the process of finalizing transfers to new clubs once their contracts expire.

For a club so used to working amid constant, tiring tumult, Ten Hag’s first day at the helm of United looked calm and composed as the former Ajax manager guided his players through their pre-season.

The 52-year-old beamed all over his face as he waved to the various members of the media who had gathered on the sidelines for his first coaching session before joining McClaren to address his cohort in the Mancunia sunshine.

Luke Shaw, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford appeared to be in great shape as the United players went through a series of light drills as they tried to catch the diligent eye of their new manager.

With a new contract extension reportedly in the works, United’s first-choice goalkeeper David de Gea appeared unaffected by pre-season rust as he tested his coordination and reflexes.

All is well at United, then, and Ten Hag’s reign begins amidst an atmosphere of peaceful, productive harmony.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/blog-the-toe-poke/story/4691513/man-united-boss-erik-ten-hag-takes-first-training-session-with-ronaldoother-big-stars-missing Man United boss Erik Ten Hag takes first training session with Ronaldo, other big stars missing

Emma Bowman

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