Erik ten Hag set to decide on Manchester United leadership group

Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag has switched up Manchester United’s captaincy and is set to announce a new senior players group – Getty Images/Matthew Peters

Manchester United’s players are waiting for Erik ten Hag to determine the make-up of the leadership group for the new season.

Ten Hag has appointed Bruno Fernandes as his new captain after taking the armband off Harry Maguire in one significant change.

Casemiro, the Brazil midfielder, was given the captaincy after Fernandes went off at half-time in United’s 2-0 win over Arsenal at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Saturday night.

It remains to be seen if Maguire – whose future at Old Trafford is uncertain – forms part of the group next season.

At Manchester City, Pep Guardiola lets the players vote on who is in the squad’s leadership group.

But popular reserve goalkeeper Tom Heaton – who was part of the dressing room’s leadership team last season – says Ten Hag makes that decision at United and expects him to organise things before too long.

Asked if the group had been put together for the forthcoming season, Heaton said: “No not yet, it’s still quite early. There has been a change of captaincy as well but I’m sure it will get sorted at some point.

“This club sets the highest possible standards and you look to the leadership group to set those standards really. I was part of that last season and I would hope to be going forward as well. The manager put it together really. He organises that.

“We have got plenty of leaders in our dressing room and get together if things need addressing or sorting or talking to the manager.”

Ten Hag delighted by United’s aggression

Ten Hag – who has talked about his side “raising the bar” next season – was delighted with United’s performance against Arsenal and in particular the robust, aggressive nature of his team’s play and the hunger they showed even in a pre-season friendly.

United’s uncompromising approach was reflected in Lisandro Martinez’s crunching challenge on Buyako Saka and Ten Hag is hoping to see more of the same from his senior players against Real Madrid in Houston on Wednesday.

United trained in New Jersey on Sunday morning before heading to San Diego for the second leg of their US tour, with an academy side due to take on Wrexham at the SnapDragon Stadium on Tuesday.

Anthony Martial is due to start training gradually with the first team this week as he steps up his recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered at the end of last season.

Heaton to hold future talks

Tom Heaton - Erik ten Hag set to decide on Manchester United leadership group

Veteran Manchester United goalkeeper Tom Heaton is keen to get regular game time towards the end of his career – Getty Images/Robbie Jay Barratt

Heaton says he will sit down for talks with Ten Hag over his future amid interest from Luton Town and Everton in the veteran goalkeeper.

United have signed Andre Onana as David De Gea’s replacement but the club could yet bring in another back up goalkeeper.

Dean Henderson is expected to be sold, most probably to Nottingham Forest, but it is still unclear if Heaton will stay or be allowed to move.

“Unsure at the minute. I’ve got to wait until I speak to the manager, sit down and see where we’re at,” Heaton, 37, said when asked about his future.

“I love it here. I have been part of this football club for a long time, but I also love playing, I can’t lie, so I will have a sit down and chat and see where we go.”

Heaton played in Saturday’s victory over Arsenal and admits he is keen to play more regularly as he nears the end of his career.

“At the moment it’s about getting fit, up to speed, taking the opportunity when it comes,” he said.

“I love playing, I love performing so when you get that opportunity in a United shirt you try to take it. That was the case against Arsenal.

“The two games I played last season. I really enjoyed it and it adds to the appetite. I’m still hungry to play. There’s still that drive to play.

“It’s that feeling, that energy in your body that you miss and I do miss it if I’m honest. But we will see how it plays out. Everything in life is a balance.”

Fans’ San Diego yacht trip

United fans are set to enjoy an exclusive yacht trip around the impressive San Diego harbour on Tuesday morning local time in one of the latest supporters’ club events on the US tour.

Unsurprisingly, tickets for the event sold out quickly. It follows a series of activities on the New Jersey/New York leg of the tour which included the club creating a pop-up United museum at the Marquis Marriott hotel in the heart of New York.

The museum featured exhibits including a shirt worn by Busby Babe Duncan Edwards, and was visited by hundreds of fans.

Evans could stay on

Jonny Evans (right) - Erik ten Hag set to decide on Manchester United leadership group

Jonny Evans (right) played in red for the first time in eight years and may well stay – Getty Images/Matthew Peters

Paul McShane and Tom Huddlestone have both held player-coach roles in recent seasons that involved them playing for United’s Under-21 team as well as doing some coaching.

Huddlestone took over from McShane last summer and will continue that role this season.

United are always on the look out for the right experienced veteran players to assist the club’s young talents and there are plenty at Old Trafford who would like to see Jonny Evans in the position.

Evans, 35, still has his sights on playing at the top level, though, with Burnley thought to be one of the clubs interested in the Northern Ireland international.

But it is not unfeasible that United could look to keep Evans beyond the summer if Harry Maguire was to leave and Ten Hag needed experienced cover at centre-half. Evans is expected to play against Wrexham.

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