A new Premier League campaign is approaching which means teams have dusted off their passports to go on pre-season tours.
Here, we look at five things we have learned from this summer’s tours so far:
JURGEN KLOPP TAKES NO NONSENSE
Liverpool manager Klopp banished defender Mamadou Sakho from the Reds’ pre-season tour of the United States after the 26-year-old was late three times. The France international was sent packing by the German in a no-nonsense approach, even though Sakho is currently nursing an Achilles problem which will prevent him starting the new Premier League campaign. Quoted in several newspapers, Klopp said: “He missed the departure of the plane, he missed a session and then was late for a meal. I have to build a group here, I have to start anew, so I thought it maybe made sense that he flew home to Liverpool and after eight days, when we come back, we can talk about it.”
MANCHESTER CITY’S PLAYERS ARE OUT OF SHAPE
At least some of them are, according to new boss Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard has been quick to impose the strict discipline which served him well at Barcelona and Bayern Munich as he seeks to make sure his players are fit for the new season. He has banned junk food and City defender Gael Clichy told several national newspapers: “If your weight is too high, you’re not training with the team. You hear it a lot but, for my part, it’s the first time any manager has really done it. And we have a few players who are not training with the team yet.”
NOT QUITE PITCH PERFECT
Manchester United’s eagerly-anticipated friendly with Manchester City in China was washed out as the club’s summer tour to the Far East lurched to a disappointing end. Extreme weather saw heavy rain ruin the surface in Beijing, with the first Manchester derby set to be played on foreign soil called off just five hours before kick-off. It only served to cap what was a frustrating tour for new United manager Jose Mourinho. A two-hour delay at passport control upon arrival in China started the trip on the wrong foot before heat and humidity made it difficult for the Portuguese to mould his new side in training. The journey to Beijing then proved problematic as one of United’s two chartered planes was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Tianjin due to the bad weather, leading Memphis Depay to post a video saying they were “lost somewhere” in China. It begs the question whether it is really worth playing pre-season games so far away from home.
NOW YOU SEE HIM
One minute Sam Allardyce was set to lead Sunderland on their pre-season tour in Austria, the next he was being unveiled as new England manager at St George’s Park. Allardyce signed a two-year deal to lead the Three Lions into their World Cup qualifying campaign and got straight to work, bidding au revoir to the Black Cats. Sunderland moved swiftly to announce former Everton manager David Moyes as the new man in charge at the Stadium of Light the day after Allardyce’s exit.
IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL
Tottenham Hotspur are the Premier League side who will rack up the most air miles this summer, flying a total of 22,468 miles.
Spurs hosted Nottingham Forest and Fulham at home before jetting to Melbourne, Australia, to face Juventus and Atletico Madrid, before they make a pit stop in Norway to take on Inter Milan. Tottenham’s globe-trotting eclipses Chelsea, the second most well-travelled side with 14,345 miles, while Watford are taking the road less travelled and will only be covering 1,632 miles this summer with trips to Woking, Stevenage and Austria on the agenda. With the new Premier League season kicking off on August 13, a week after Spurs play their last match in Oslo, the lucrative benefits of a pre-season tour balanced with the potential for jet lag and fatigue make these trips somewhat of a double-edged sword.