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Open Training Session In Durban

This opportunity was definitely not going to be missed. A once-in-a-red-moon chance to see our Manchester United Team in training – in the flesh! Time to perhaps experience our Club at work, rather than the fine veneer ‘on show’ in a match. Tickets sold quickly, ours had been bought four weeks ago on the first morning of sales. My nephews Matt have been asking “are we there yet?” ever since we left the ticket sales office. I have been walking-on-air, day-dreaming inventively about the moment when Sir Alex grins at me, or Rio flings a nonchalant “wots up, bruv?” in my direction. We are so ready for this!

The DHL team bus arrived past us as we were walking into Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, with their much needed police escort just about keeping us rampant Reds at bay. We rushed in to the stadium, where 11,000 expectant fans had gathered excitedly.

As players and coaches sporadically came out of the tunnel and onto the pitch, each and every one was cheered loudly. Even the young, unrecognisable players seemed to be known personally by nearly all the spectators. I struggled to work out who a couple of them are, but hey – if they haven’t yet featured for the First Team on Match Day, they’re off most fans radar in this far-flung corner of Africa. The loudest cheers were for Chicharito and TonyV, and of course Sir Alex brought the house down.

The players stretched individually for five minutes, and then jogged a few laps around the oval pitch. They then gathered together, and for ten minutes were put through series of intense, close-knit drills. Short, sharp bursts of speed, combined with various contortions such as knees up by their chins while running sideways or backwards.

Footballs were then introduced to the training. Grouped in circles, the players enjoyed a ten minute bout of one-touch man-in-the-middle. Starting at a leisurely pace, they quickly upped the tempo until balls were flying around at high-speed. The clear masters here were Scholes, Carrick, Kagawa, Berbatov and Anderson. Next the players were divided into groups of defenders and attackers. Each small group of attackers performed combination passing drills, while two or three defenders tried to keep them at bay. It was actually exciting, especially as the groups were sharing the same space, seamlessly avoiding the other sets of players. The goalkeepers were busy, and definitely ruled the roost. In this twenty minute stage, the best goals were scored by Kagawa, Chicharito, Scholes, Ando and Bebe.

The final training exercise consisted of a 9-a-side game played on half a pitch. Cramped for space, the players had no time on the ball. The passing was slick, quick and accurate. Control of the football was instant, and telepathy already seems most evident despite it being the beginning of pre-season. The better of the two sides had Ferdinand, Petrucci, Tunnicliffe, Scholes, Carrick, Berbatov, Macheda, Hernandez, and Amos. Interplay between Scholes, Carrick and Berbatov was sublime, with Chicharito scoring a couple of great goals. Their opponents had Shinji, Anderson, Valencia, Powell, Lingard, Bebe, Blackett, Wootton and Lindegaard. Good goals were scored by Powell (ghosting in!), Anderson and Kagawa. Ando’s beaming smile and high tempo was always evident, Shinji was determined and focussed. Together they seem already to have connected very well, and were almost too much to handle. Fiery Paul Scholes put that right with a couple of hard challenges, to the great merriment of the crowd.

The hour of training ended for all the players, bar Valencia and Bebe, who ran fartleks together for another ten minutes. The squad stayed on the pitch, signing autographs. Despite the unruly, demanding mob’s best efforts, the players each happily signed hundreds of the caps and shirts thrust desperately in their faces. Scholes was an absolute Trojan. Long after most had wilted he continued to sign apparel, and was only outlasted by Berbatov and Kagawa.

And then, they were gone. Tomorrow night (Wednesday 18 July) they return here, to Amazulu’s home ground. The first pre-season match of 2012/13 kicks off in front of 51,000 Reds at 19h00 RoM Standard Time.



  1. Jeet says:

    Lovely read. Interesting (not suprising) to read that berba shows his class. Great to hear that the lads are already developing good understanding. Wish I was there :(


  2. Utd4life says:

    I wish I could have been there. Alas, no such luck. Thank you for describing your experience AfriManUtd.

  3. Union Jack says:

    What are fartleks

  4. Tafara Phillip says:

    I come from this ‘far flung corner of Africa’ and know for a fact the amount of support our team has, it will be like playing a home match when the action starts. Amazulu will be playing for pride so it’s not gonna be a stroll. Can’t wait to see Kagawa linking up with Ando, Toni V, Scholesy and Chico

  5. Giggs12Gerrard0 says:

    Fartleks are a combination of slow and burst of speed doggies. Very much a pre season number!

    Great read on the excietement of the reds abroad, I take it for granted I can nip down the road and watch them play.

  6. Panderi says:

    Great read AfriManUtd.. :) Can’t wait for the action to begin.. Really looking forward to seeing how Kagawa-san..

  7. Tafara Phillip says:

    Fartleks are intensive speed training exercises of varying intensities meant to boost aerobic and anaerobic fitness. There’s a few different types….

  8. Panderi says:

    *how Kagawa-san does..

  9. King Eric says:

    Giggs12 – Hello mate. How did it go kipping rough last night?

    Great read . Good to hear of Ando doing well and Kagwa etc. Carrick is a real class act. HUGE player for us this season.

    Mike – Any joy with cancelling your holiday to Mexico you clown.

  10. 911_DEVIL says:

    This read left me chuffed
    Bebe scored a great goal too :D
    Our t-shirt will serve as the table cover while bebe serve humble pies to some of my mates in here.
    I’m soo happy for the team, and excitements is flooding in, just can’t wait for the game tonight.

    Only wish I were there :(
    <3 U MAN UTD!!!

  11. King Eric says:

    I fully expect the young lads to do well this tour. They are slick as they have played together for years. Some are disappointed in the travelling squad but I am not as it’s a great chance for these Youth Cup winning lads.

  12. Pratyush says:

    Interesting to see Ando’s work rate being mentioned, and his passing skills, perhaps he’ll finally pull up his socks this season and stay fit.

  13. mig78 says:

    What time is the game? I

  14. mig78 says:

    I thought it’s about to kick-off (10minutes from now).
    Enlighten me anybody, please…

  15. 911_DEVIL says:

    20:00pm SA time
    19:00pm UK time mate

  16. keano99 says:

    Anybody who says our tours are a waste of time just read that its great that our fans from all over get to c the reds even if its only training were very lucky. Great read

  17. WillieRedNut says:

    Tunnicliffe looks a bruiser! Never mind another Keano, or Robbo, what about another Butty? ;)

  18. mig78 says:


    Been mislead with wrong info.

  19. 911_DEVIL says:

    Tunnicliffe the very best keanos version
    This guys excited the hell outta me
    Typical united player right there
    Bred under mancs leadership of English football, according to luis suarez :)

  20. ClaytonBlackmoresTan says:


    You can’t buy class.

  21. Costas says:

    The best part about this tour is how many of our first team players have stayed behind. Less travelling = MOre time to work on their fitness. Nice.

  22. King Eric says:

    Willie – Hello mate. Absolutely. If Tunni is half the player Butty was , which he will be easily IMO that would do me. He is a man now and as you know, been saying for time he is hard as fucking nails.

  23. 0161-Jon says:

    can’t wait to see Shinji in action tonight…

  24. 0161-Jon says:

    and Petrucci too hopefully, definitely deserves a good chance this season, he looks class fromt he few games I’ve seen him

  25. eric keane says:

    Excited for tonight!! Since brady’s starting as a LB we might try the following formation..
    Vermijil rio wooton
    Tony V scholes carrick brady
    Chico macheda

  26. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Nice to see that all the new faces in the team are settling in nicely. Younger players will get chances, some other players like anderson will get another chance to kick start their careers. Glad to see bebe doing well. If he does well and makes it at united then everyone knows i’ve backed him all along.

  27. WillieRedNut says:

    Petrucci is an interesting player. Beset by injuries. Hope he gets more luck in the future.

    King Eric – I know you have mate. Fact is, we need a player like Tunni in the team. Got high hopes for this kid.

  28. Giggs12Gerrard0 says:

    King Eric – Fuck that I was sleeping rough the scruffy cunts :-)

    In terms of Tunnicliffe I dont want people to get to carried away. He is a fantatsic prospect but players of his style dont mature as quick as more skilful players lets say. He needs a good 12 months at least playing championship game in game out. Clev was similar he needed time and proper experience before getting a first team sniff.

  29. WillieRedNut says:

    Well, maybe a loan stint at a premiership club would do him no harm.

  30. Giggs12Gerrard0 says:


    Agree if we would get games, he started very few for Peterbrough yet impressed with game time. I would send him back there and let him shine.

  31. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Giggs12 – tunnicliffe is obviously not the finished article. His passing and positioning could improve but again, if FERGIE is willing to keep him at the club then maybe he’ll get chances.

  32. Giggs12Gerrard0 says:


    I completely agree with that mate but we all saw what happened to Pogba’s game time and he was further in terms of Fergies thoughts. It is great he is aroung the first team scene for the tour but he can only benefit from playing pro football regularly rather than in the ressies.

  33. KeanosMagicHat says:

    @ AfriManUtd – this has to be the most thorough pre-season report I have ever read.

    What’s more, it’s apparent that it has been written by a genuinely excited and devoted supporter of the club. I hope you and your fellow Reds enjoy the game tonight and look forward to reading more articles from you in the future.

    Bring on United!

  34. Robbo says:


    Have you seen Tunnicilffe play? Does he have any pace or is he a Gibson type with more muscle?

  35. kel says:

    Kagawa! Cant wait to see him in action. Asian Proud same like Park ji sung!!

  36. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Anyone have the financial numbers about how much United make on a trip like this.
    Must be funds involved after all. Just the kit video suggests a massive logistical exercise to get a trip like this done.

    SA offers other bens to be sure. Less media frenzy then asia or europe. More relaxed for the players, etc. But at the end of the day, one imagines that it has to balance out as a massive positive on the financial side as well.

    Travel Logistics: All covered by DHL
    Game income: Split ??
    Other Backing: ??

    I imagine Nelson Mandella to be a United fan. But the trip can’t just be about easing the last years of the great mans life ??? Can it?! ;)

  37. Fred says:

    I have always imagined Mandela to be a United fan too, probably because I remember him meeting the United squad back in the early 1990s. Here’s a little bit about it from Sir Alex, via

    In 1993, Manchester United were one of the first clubs to visit South Africa following the end of Apartheid and they had the opportunity to meet Mandela. The occasion obviously had a profound impact on the United manager, as he included a photo of the encounter in his autobiography, Managing My Life.

    Fifteen years on from his first meeting with the former President of South Africa and the Nobel Peace Prize winner, he recalls the incident with an incredible amount of warmth.

    “It was a fantastic trip,” Ferguson told “We’d just won the league for the first time, so there was a buoyancy and enthusiasm around the club – and there was a buoyancy and enthusiasm around South Africa because Apartheid had ended. We got the opportunity to go to Johannesburg and play two games, one against the Kaizer Chiefs and the other against Orlando Pirates, and they were brilliant games. It was great to go out at the beginning of something special.

    “The highlight for us was meeting Nelson Mandela. To be honest, we were all terrified at the prospect of meeting him. When you’re in the presence of someone so great, you do get a bit nervous. In fact, we were a bit more than nervous – we were all shaking, even me! He does have a real aura about him.

    “We also met him two years ago and were invited to his house and it was amazing how relaxed he was. He really seemed to be enjoying himself, which was great to see. He is a truly amazing man.”

  38. Superhans says:


    Do you guys know any links for tonights friendly? I cant get it on tv.


  39. Fred says:

    Hans – www. + thefirstrow + .eu ;)

  40. Superhans says:

    thx. ill try that. really excited to see some of the youngsters

  41. chrisday1975 says:

    1-0 Macheda

  42. Fred says:

    The young guns are looking good Hansy. I hope you found a link.

  43. United Till I Die says:

    Easy Rom.

    Top Post AfriManUtd! Loved reading that.

    @King Eric – spot on about the Squad, its a brilliant opportunity for them and it does the Club justice.

    @Fred – Cheers for that post on Alex and Mandela. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Fergie cutting signing happy birthday this morning. Pure class. Only saw it on RT news mind, BBC nor SKY showed it from what I can tell. Made my day.

  44. United Till I Die says:

    @Giggs12 – Easy mate, Im glad Bebe did extra training but I was wondering WTF he was doing exactly and why it was called fartleks haha. Cheers for the definition.

  45. United Till I Die says:

    *cutting cake


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