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Mckenna exclusive: why Spain was so important

Manchester United assistant coach Kieran McKenna has provided a fascinating insight into the meticulous planning and attention to detail that underpinned the squad’s successful warm-weather training camp in Spain, explaining exactly why the trip was so beneficial.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad returned from the Marbella Football Centre late on Friday afternoon after enjoying a week of galvanising, morale-boosting, sweat-inducing sessions on the continent. 

In this exclusive interview with McKenna, conducted midway through the week, the Northern Irishman gave a great insight into the workouts and detailed the importance of tactically-minded conversations. 

McKenna was also full of praise for the quality and experience that our January signing Bruno Fernandes is bringing to the squad, as you can read here… 

Kieran, just to begin with, this is the first winter break in Premier League history, so how pleased are you that it has been introduced?

“Yeah, I think it should be a good benefit, not to just to ourselves but to all of the teams. But especially for us with the schedule we've had, which has been pretty relentless in terms of a game every three or four days, with some injuries as well, so it has been a really busy schedule. It's a chance to have a break, for the players to have some family time, and then to come somewhere like this to train should be really beneficial. And hopefully we will get some good work in and see the benefits in the next few months.”

It was interesting to see in the first week of the break that some of the lads spent time with their families, while others continued to train with members of the staff. What was the thinking there and how carefully was that planned?

“Yeah, very carefully, very much so. It is just about doing what is right for each individual. They are all at different stages. Some of them have had a clear run through the season with no injuries, have been available for the games and have played or trained a lot, while other boys have missed time over the course of the season and don't feel like they need, or even want, a break at this period in terms of training. So we looked at it across the board, everybody had a different week and we hope we managed to give everyone the best opportunity to get the right balance of relaxation, family time and maintaining fitness levels where appropriate.”

You've got six days out here in Spain, so how are you going to use this time and what are you looking to achieve?

“There are lots of different outcomes. Obviously, we have got Bruno with us as well, which is a big positive, so he did well to put his hand up and make himself available for the Wolves game, going straight into the team. It is a great chance for lads like him to come into the group and get to know the players better. Again, for the younger players, some of them have been around it for quite a bit now, but I still think it is a big opportunity to come away and train on a consistent week with the team to make an impression. And for the team, it has been such a run of fixtures every three days - I think this is the first time we haven't had a midweek game since August, so with the amount of recovery that they need we haven't had too many opportunities to train. This is the first time since the summer that we've had an opportunity to train as a whole squad for a run of days. It is the best time to work on things as a team, to tactically improve in and out of possession, on set-pieces, to get some good work in and individually there are lots of things we can get from it. As a team, it's a really good chance to work on some things as a collective.”

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Kieran McKenna Manchester United Marbella Football Centre Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Spain


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