How the EFL could play big role in Man United’s Premier League title bid

With the pandemic still playing havoc with the ability to travel abroad, Manchester United are taking a unique approach to pre-season.

The majority of their Premier League rivals are heading to brighter shores, with champions Manchester City jetting off to play exhibition games in France and Spain, the latter against Barcelona.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are heading to Austria for a training camp which will involve a clutch of bounce matches and Arsenal will travel to the States to take part in the Florida Cup.

But United have shelved plans to do the same. They had held talks about travelling to Malta to play a pre-season game in early August but the idea was scrapped.

Solskjaer’s side will face three Championship teams in pre-season

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are staying in the UK. And three of their warm-up games will see them hit the road to take on EFL sides.

United had already confirmed trips to Derby County (July 18) and QPR (July 24). And earlier today is was confirmed that the Red Devils will also travel to Preston North End on Saturday, July 31.

Their other friendlies see them take the unusual step of hosting two of their Premier League opponents next season.

They welcome newly-promoted Brentford and Everton to Old Trafford on July 28 and August 7 respectively. The decision to solely play games in the UK has been welcomed by not only United fans, but players too.

Brentford, who will compete in the Premier League for the first time next season, face Man United in a friendly at Old Trafford

Goalkeeper Lee Grant, fresh from extending his stay at the club, told : “I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m sure a few of the boys are. [I’ve got] nothing against those long trips and getting to sample the four corners of the world, but there is something quite special about playing some of these games and playing teams perhaps we wouldn’t usually play.

Veteran Lee Grant could get a rare run-out in the friendly against his old club Derby this Sunday

“It will be nice to get some sense of normality back and fans in the stadiums.”

The United squad will set up base for a week-long training camp at a luxury five-star hotel in Surrey whilst there is scope for a stay in Scotland too, prior to the new Premier League campaign which begins on August 14.

Solskjaer’s side host Leeds United on the first day of the season.

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The Norwegian will be hoping that the testers against canny Championship opponents prove to be a sound grounding as they attempt to win a league title for the first time since 2013.

There is also the added boost of spectators returning to watch their sides for the first time since March 2020, certainly in the case of Derby and Preston – which will only add to the spectacle and create a much more competitive environment as opposed to behind-closed-doors games which have become all-too familiar over the past 18 months.

Whilst their rivals rack up the air miles, Solskjaer will be hoping to apply the finishing touches to a title tilt much closer to home.

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