Pre-season is well and truly underway as many British clubs have headed Stateside to enjoy the sun and get some more minutes in their legs as they gear up for the upcoming season. Manchester United and Wrexham AFC are two such clubs who are set to face each other on Wednesday in the city of San Diego.
Manchester United have looked in fine tune so far in the three games of pre-season that they have played. Erik ten Hag gave his young players a chance in the first two games while the third game against Arsenal featured a much more senior side. The game against Arsenal was their first in the United States this summer, with a few more to come by, and the meeting of the two giants did not fail to disappoint. The two old rivals faced off each other in New Jersey, and a record sell-out crowd was present to witness the Red Devils comfortably overcoming the Gunners by 2-0. Both sides fielded senior teams with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta naming all three of their new signings in the starting lineup. Manchester United’s new signing Andre Onana did not feature, but expectations are he will play against Real Madrid, less than 24 hours after the Wrexham game. Erik ten Hag has been trying out new ideas in the pre-season so far, as he looks to adjust to his squad’s deficits ahead of the new season. There has been much talk of a few more arrivals and departures in this United squad, with ten Hag eager for new signings to join them on the pre-season tour.
Wrexham AFC, despite their fourth-tier league status, are garnering fame throughout the United States, thanks to their owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. The two Hollywood stars took over the Welsh club in 2020, and through their documentary about the club, managed to raise popularity of Wrexham in the US, with the League 2 side now becoming one of the most followed team in the country, outside the Premier League. They have gone from strength to strength under the new ownership and now are preparing for life in fourth division after being promoted to League Two from the National League for the first time in 15 years. The club have already faced Chelsea in the pre-season and will now play against another big team in front of a big crowd.
With Manchester United set to play again on Thursday against Real Madrid in Houston, manager Erik ten Hag has said that a youth-focused side will take on Wrexham on Wednesday. U-21 coach Travis Binnion will manage the team, which will consist of many U21 players but also some seniors. The players who are not involved are set to travel to Houston to prepare for the Spanish giants.
WHEN AND WHERE:
Date: Wednesday, 26th July 2023.
Time: 7.30 pm local time. 3.30 am BST
Venue: Snapdragon Stadium, San Diego, California.
Manchester United will field a young side to take on the Welsh club, with many changes expected. Travis Binnion will lead the team, but Erik ten Hag will remain alongside to assist and support him. The Dutchman has confirmed that Darren Fletcher will also be on the touchline with them. Moving to the team, the manager said that veteran defender Jonny Evans – who has signed a short-term deal with the club enabling him to take part in the pre-season- is set to play on Wednesday, along with the other Academy products. It is expected that many of the youngsters that took the pitch against Lyon and Leeds United, will feature again in San Diego.
For Wrexham, it is a fantastic experience and manager Phil Parkinson should name a strong side as they look to impress their growing fanbase. They suffered a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea, but were in good nick against LA Galaxy II, winning 4-0. The Red Dragons are prepared to put up a tough fight this time and against United’s youth team, could certainly have a chance. Former United keeper Ben Foster will be expected to start between the sticks for Wrexham.
PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR:
The 18-year-old midfielder has been raising eyebrows at youth level with his displays in the United Academy and he earned praise again when given a chance in the first-team against Lyon. His assist to Donny van de Beek in United’s 1-0 win against the French side was inch perfect and fans were excited with the young midfielders energetic displays in the engine room. He was cool and composed on the ball and he made no mistake in his passing. Fresh from signing a new contract with the club, Gore will be looking to impress the manager and stake his claim for a first-team role for the new season.
MANCHESTER UNITED XI: Radek Vitek; Marc Jurado, Jonny Evans, Will Fish, Alvaro Fernandez; Dan Gore, Hannibal Mjebri; Facundo Pellestri, Isak Hansen-Aaoren, Omari Forson; Joe Hugill.
WREXHAM XI: Ben Foster; Eoghan O’Connell, Ben Tozer, Aaron Hayden; Anthony Forde, James Jones, Luke Young, Andy Cannon, Jacob Mendy; Paul Mullin.