Ahead of United’s DHL pre-season tour, former striker Dwight Yorke recalls his pre-season memories and has some words of advice for the club's new boys.
What are your overriding memories of pre-season?
For me, pre-season is about getting back into the swing of things after your holidays and getting yourself well prepared for the new season. It’s good to see the lads again and meet any new players we’ve signed and just generally refocus your efforts on your fitness and getting that competitive edge back.
What’s the best thing about pre-season if there is one?
[Laughs] There’s not a lot that’s good about pre-season! After relaxing on your holidays it’s about hard work. All the lads know that you have to focus on getting fit and pushing yourself so you’re in good shape mentally and physically in order to make sure you’re in that starting XI for the first game of the season.
Is it one of the most important times of the year for a player?
Absolutely. It gives you that base to build on for the rest of the season. You’ve had four or five weeks away having a good rest and when you come back you know you have to get yourself back into peak physical condition as soon as possible. You want to be in the gaffer’s starting XI for the first game – that’s the one thing you look forward to when you come back, that competitiveness with the other lads for a place in the team.
You went on several pre-season tours with United – it must be quite an experience to witness the passion of fans around the world?
Definitely. It just shows you how big this club is. The team are heading to South Africa, China and Scandinavia this year and it’ll be a great opportunity for the fans in those places who don’t have the opportunity to get to Old Trafford very often to see the team in action both in training and matches. Some fans will also get the chance to interact with the players and maybe get a few autographs and photos which will be a great experience for them.
You know what it’s like to move to Old Trafford – what advice would you give to Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell?
The best advice I can give them is to not get caught up in the fact they’re playing for Manchester United, but just to go out there and express themselves and do their best for the team. There is a reason they are both at the club – the manager has seen their talent and believes they are good enough for Manchester United and will bring something different to the team. Both players need to believe that as well. I’m sure the other players, as they always do, will make both of them feel very welcome and once they settle in I’m sure they’ll be top players for us.
Are you expecting to see us make more signings before the season starts?
Yes I’m sure we will, in fact the gaffer is probably busy working on things as we speak and will have been doing for a while. He knows that the team needs to improve – the likes of Giggsy and Scholesy have been fantastic for us but they are in the twilight of their career so the gaffer will be looking at bringing in some young blood as he already has done with Kagawa and Powell. I expect a couple more signings in order to make the squad even more competitive as we begin our bid to regain the Premier League trophy.