Football is here! Manchester United's season is set to begin! Well, sort of... the financially rewarding, heat searing, humidity soaking, fitness building, and team bonding days of the 2013 pre-season summer tour in Asia and Australia is underway and the first friendly is later today versus the Singha All-Star XI in Bangkok, Thailand.
David Moyes, who I suppose can consider this game as his first in charge as United's manager, will have a lot players unavailable for this match due to various reasons. Experienced players like captain Nemanja Vidic, Ashley Young, Nani, Chris Smalling, and Wayne Rooney all aren't with the club now due to injuries -- none, though, are thought to be long-term concerns. Other experienced players like Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, David de Gea, Antonio Valencia, and Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) all are out for this friendly, as well, because they are being given additional rest due to some of them recently being involved in international competition. RvP and de Gea are expected to meet up with the squad later in the week in Australia while Kagawa will join up in Japan. Younger players like Larnell Cole, Sam Johnstone, and Angelo Henriquez have also been given additional time off due to their own recent involvement in the European Under-21 Championships and FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Summer-signing Guillermo Valera will also miss out because he will be featuring today in the final of the latter competition for Uruguay. Fringe squad players like Bebe and Federico Macheda have been excluded from the tour, as well.
So then, who actually will be available for this friendly? Here's a list:
* Goalkeepers: Anders Lindegaard, Ben Amos
* Defenders: Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Michael Keane, Rafael, Fabio, Alexander Buttner
* Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Wilfried Zaha, Jesse Lingard, Adnan Januzaj
s: Danny Welbeck
Welbeck will probably play a lot -- if not the entire game -- because he's the only out-and-out striker. There's a good amount of depth in central-midfield so Moyes could definitely use a three-man midfield for most of the match -- in addition, Jones could push forward into midfield because there's good depth for central-defense, as well -- and this would allow United to slow the game down (if need be) in the heat. If the gaffer wanted to deploy someone 'in the hole' in behind Welbeck, any of Giggs, Januzaj, Lingard, Cleverley, Ando, or Zaha could play that role.
Zaha is certainly a player many of us supporters will be excited to see. It should be noted, though, that's it's possible his playing time could be limited because he was carrying a knock earlier this summer. In addition, he, along with Patrice Evra, were seen doing extra work on the side yesterday in training. Perhaps that's a hint that both players might not feature prominently in this friendly. Moyes has also explained that he's willing to use the youngsters tomorrow and that could mean Fabio and Buttner spelling Evra for a bit or the entire game:
"It's my first opportunity to manage the team and we'll try and give many people an opportunity to play; some of the younger players will get some game time."
- Moyes | Source: ManUtd.com
The young player that I'm personally most excited to see is Januzaj. He received rave reviews from various coaching staff members last season -- including from Sir Alex Ferguson -- for his tremendous performances in the Under-21 Premier League title-winning side. He likely would have been given his first-team debut last season in the finale if United hadn't self-destructed in the wild 5-5 league thriller at West Bromwich Albion.
KO: 2:00pm BST, 8:00pm local time (Bangkok), 9:00am EST
Venue: Rajamangala Stadium
TV: MUTV (exclusively to any country that the channel offers service to), FOX Soccer (U.S.)