Manchester United pre-season tour: Louis van Gaal must learn to live with lucrative United tours

Van Gaal had criticised United's commercial commitments regarding a long-distance tour of the United States

Denver

A senior executive who knows the workings of Manchester United better than most observed privately this week that a Dutch football manager can take some getting used to. “The Dutch can be so direct and blunt that sometimes you can't believe the words that have just come out of their mouth,” he said.

Liberating though Louis van Gaal's decisiveness and clarity have been so far, there is unease bordering on tension in some quarters of the club after his bitter complaints about the rigours of the pre-season tour timetable in this vast country. Those involved in coordinating the tour which is such a substantial part of the United money-generating machine feel the preparations have been a model of thoroughness. The proposed itinerary was shown to Ryan Giggs during brief caretaker manager spell in May. He signed the tour off.

But van Gaal was not happy with the schedule. He announced after the team had arrived in Los Angeles, nine days ago, that the players would be undergoing double training sessions. Rooms must consequently be booked at a Holiday Inn near United's training facility, he said, allowing the players to train in the morning, eat and sleep at lunchtime and then train again in the afternoon. Any notion of a morning session and return to the luxurious Beverly Wilshere went out of the window. Similar arrangements have been at great haste in Washington and Detroit, where the team arrive this week.

 

He has also ordered changes to the dietary planning. The specialised menu options prepared at the Four Seasons in Denver were changed and United's dieticians send to Colorado to meet the manager's specifications. Van Gaal has dispatched staff to check hotel facilities were as he wanted them, even ordering a change to the seating plans, so players eat together.

To an extent, these are the actions of a man in a tearing hurry, with only a few weeks to prepare for the Premier League season after departing the Dutch national set-up. His distaste for this tour is also the sign of a man who has traditionally preferred to take his teams to the forested hills of Veluwe, in the central eastern Netherlands, for pre-season. When at Barcelona, he took his players to the village of Hoenderloo. Austria is thought to be another favourite of his.

Read more: United can win the league, says Rooney
Van Gaal confirms interest in Roma midfielder Strootman
Dutchman to have private word with Mourinho over Shaw jibe

But while chief executive Ed Woodward will be determined to strike a compromise with van Gaal when they speak on the subject, trips such as this are something vastly more than a publicly relations exercise.

A casual walk around what was effectively a Manchester United Festival, on field beside the Pasadena Rosebowl before United played LA Galaxy there in front before 86,000 people, revealed the captive market with money to burn on United merchandise. Jackie and Gabe Romero, a young couple, had bought United kit, wrapping paper, collectors' cards and a business card holder through the club website in the last year. These are the people whose affinity for the club allows United to state they have 600m fans the world over - half of them in Asia.

That's just the start. United's four games in the International Champions Cup will net them more than £1m each, while the sponsors for whom this tour offers huge potential are paying out very big numbers for the association. One of them, AON, will have undertaken 25 engagements, involving 1,700 clients, by the time this tour finishes. Hits to that company's website lift by up to a third when a tour like this is under way and by 500 percent on match days. The club's analysis tells them that 34 per cent of their new business flows from the United partnership.

By this time next week United's bright emblazoned AON tour team bus will have moved on to Detroit where locally based Chevrolet who have paid a record $560-million (£330m) over seven years to have their names on the club's shirt, will be getting more profile. Chevrolet involvement with United started when Ryan Giggs went to one of their events in Hong Kong over five years ago. There were one million 'impressions' online after stories and pictures of Giggs and a Chevy were published. The company immediately called United and became official car sponsor.

It is thought that the company may push United for an Asia tour next year because that, rather than the domestic US market, is where United can win them brand awareness and what the marketeers call 'brand preference.' Around 30 per cent of United fans will express a preference for a brand if they see it associated with United - without even sampling it.

Bulova, the club's “official timekeeper” would certainly favour Asia, too. “There is no doubt that growing our market in Asia is the No 1 objective. China is a very difficult market to break into,” says the company's president Gregory Thumm. “It is difficult because China is a heavily penetrated market. We know we are not going to get into the China market in a day, a week or years - and that's why Manchester United is a great partner with us.”

Adidas - who have more than doubled the value of the Chevy deal by signing a 10-year, $1.3-billion (£700m) agreement to provide United with the shirts on which the car firm's logo will be emblazoned - also want United to return to Asia. The allure of South Korea - where the club has 300,000 credit card holders - Japan and China will be immense in a blank summer on the international calendar.

Van Gaal will need to think again if he wants an end to tours. As an executive well acquainted with the club's commercial business put it this week: “This isn't even an Asia tour year. Van Gaal's seen nothing yet.”

Suggested Topics
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015