Manchester United begin their pre-season with an away fixture against Championship side Wigan. As they travel to China, they will square off against two of Europe’s top teams in Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City.
It will be the start of a new era for Manchester United under new manager Jose Mourinho. A trio of tumultuous campaigns under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal has seen the Old Trafford faithful lose hope in the side. But with high profile names like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan added to an already mouth-watering attack, the fans have plenty of reasons to be hopeful going into the 2016/17 season.
Preparations for the new campaign are in full swing, and United will begin their friendlies at the JW Stadium against former Premier League outfit Wigan. The Reds then travel to Shanghai to participate in the International Champions Cup, playing their first game against Bundesliga heavyweights Borussia Dortmund. Three days after that is the derby, as Manchester United are set to take on Manchester City on the 25th of July at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing.
After the Asian tour, football returns to Old Trafford in the form of captain Wayne Rooney’s testimonial. The game will be played on 3rd August against Rooney’s former club Everton. They will then go to Wembley where they face off against 2015/16 Premier League champions Leicester City for the Community Shield.
The Hard Tackle cites three talking points about the Red Devils’ pre-season:
Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be facing his former club Borussia Dortmund
Mkhitaryan completed a reported £26.3 million switch from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United this summer. The Armenian attacking midfielder is coming off the back of a fantastic season with the German side, and would add a lot of firepower to United’s strike force. In 31 appearances, he accounted for 11 goals and 15 assists and played a pivotal role in Dortmund’s second place Bundesliga finish.
The Armenian powerhouse will meet his former teammates in Shanghai on the 22nd of July, as the Red Devils are set to take on Borussia Dortmund in their first game. According to MUTV, Mkhitaryan is relishing the moment, and he can’t wait to take the field for United. It would also be interesting to see how Thomas Tuchel’s side will fare after losing two of their star players in Mkhitaryan and Mats Hummels.
Jose Mourinho’s first taste of the Manchester Derby
Despite managing in a number of derbies throughout Portugal, Italy, Spain and England, Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho has never been part of the intriguing Manchester Derby. A clash between Manchester heavyweights United and City is always worth watching. Mourinho’s opposite number Pep Guardiola, too, would be managing in his first Manchester Derby, and it would be interesting to see how the duo face off.
The game is scheduled for the 25th of July at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, and is destined to be a cracker. For United, new boy Zlatan Ibrahimovic and veteran Bastian Schwiensteiger would be missing, as the duo will not be travelling to China with the squad. City, on the other hand, would be without the services of their new signing Ilkay Gundogan due to a knee injury he picked up in the latter stages of the 2015/16 campaign. However, fans could get a first glimpse of attacker Nolito after he completed a £14 million switch from Sevilla.
The Wayne Rooney testimonial
Manchester United will face Everton on the 2nd of August at Old Trafford to celebrate the player’s 12 seasons spent at the club. It is also understood that all the proceeds of the game will be given to charity — making it an even more momentous occasion. While talking about the game, the United captain said:
“I owe United and Everton everything for giving me my footballing opportunities. Through The Wayne Rooney Foundation I want to put something back and, at the same time, say a heartfelt thanks to everyone at these great clubs who ever helped me in my career.
“Everton and United, along with my family, gave me the support and opportunity to help me achieve my goals and dreams. Having a young family of my own makes me realise it’s vital that every child gets the opportunity to grow up surrounded by love and support to give them a chance of fulfilling their potential.
“I hope The Wayne Rooney Foundation and its charity partners can improve and inspire the lives of children disadvantaged by family breakdown, abuse, health issues or lack of educational opportunities.”
Recent reports have suggested that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be playing a role in this game, making his debut for the Red Devils. The Swedish striker signed a bumper £200,000-a-week-deal with the Manchester outfit, and it would be the first time the Old Trafford faithful would see him in action donning the famous red jersey.