What are Manchester United doing during the World Cup?

In normal circumstances, the whole footballing world pauses while the World Cup pans out – but nothing about the 2022 World Cup is normal.

As this tournament takes place slap bang in the middle of a season, players and managers will have to keep their minds and bodies as sharp as possible to be ready for the immediate resumption of club matters following the crowning of world champions.

After a rocky beginning to the 2022/23 campaign, Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United have boasted good form over the past five or six weeks and will do everything they can over the coming weeks to continue in that vein following the World Cup

It has been announced that Ten Hag will take the members of his squad that aren’t going to the World Cup to the south of Spain for a winter camp after a short break from training in Manchester – alright for some, isn’t it?

The Red Devils will be based in Cadiz over a week-long stay in Andalucia, where they’ll have a training camp before returning to England.

“It’s a strange season,” Ten Hag has commented. “It’s not like usual as we have a World Cup but also players will stay behind.

“We have to train them during those six weeks and we have to give them the right program so they stay in the right fitness levels, but also they stay in the right shape and also in the team style.

“We made a programme to do that, as optimum as possible,” continued Ten Hag. “So, we will train here [at Carrington] for one week, or eight or nine days, and then we will have a short break. Then we will train and go to Spain for a training camp for one week.

“There, we can train [properly]. We have good opponents over there so we can get the game practice in as well. Then we will return, ready for the second stage of the season, I would say, but a long stage, longer than usual.”

Within their training camp, United will play two friendly fixtures. The first will be on 7 December against Cadiz, who narrowly escaped relegation from La Liga last campaign, before they take on Real Betis, who topped their Europa League group with an unbeaten record this season after qualifying with a fifth-placed finish in Spain’s top flight last term.

“The week-long training camp and matches against Cadiz CF and Real Betis Balompié will also provide an opportunity for some of our younger players to experience what it is like to train within a first-team environment as well as play against two competitive La Liga sides,” stated director of football John Murtough.

Those two friendly games during the break precede the Red Devils’ first encounter after the World Cup’s conclusion – a Carabao Cup round-of-16 tie against Burnley just two days after the final.

Considering the proximity of that one with the latter stages of the World Cup (and Ten Hag’s penchant for slight rotation in the League Cup), there will likely be some regulars missing from the side that faces the Clarets.

Away on international duty during the coming weeks will be Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw with England, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes with Portugal, Raphael Varane with France, Christian Eriksen with Denmark, Casemiro and Fred with Brazil, Lisandro Martinez with Argentina and Tyrell Malacia with the Netherlands – all of whom will be hoping to feature in the later rounds of the World Cup.

With this in mind, we’re likely to see some fringe players take to the field on 20 December for United.

As he’s not travelling with Spain, David De Gea could feature in goal with Victor Lindelof being joined by Phil Jones or Axel Tuanzebe at the deep end of the pitch. Scott McTominay will likely play once more with Donny van de Beek joining him in midfield, while Anthony Martial could be flanked by the unselected Jadon Sancho in the front line, with the exuberant Anthony Elanga and the bustling Alejandro Garnacho battling for a spot in the side too.

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