Manchester City return to the United States for a pre-season tour for the first time since 2018 and the reigning Premier League champions know their time in the United States matters on so many levels.
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More importantly, their training sessions, along with games against Club America in Houston (July 20) and Bayern Munich at Lambeau Field (July 23), will prepare them for their title defense and another push to all four trophies in 2022-23.
Having toured the United States six times since 2010, Manchester City are also fully focused on continuing to assist and expand their presence in North America.
After not being able to tour for the past two summers due to coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions.
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Important role the US tour can play
“There will be an energy from the crowd and that will galvanize the players. It is the role of the fans to do so and the same for the players. It will be exciting and even though it’s a friendly match, these teams don’t play not to win, that’s what we want to see! Manchester City legend and club ambassador Joleon Lescott laughed as he spoke to ProSoccerTalk (full interview above) before going on tour with the team.
Lescott has played on several US tours himself for Manchester City and the former England international and PL title winner believes a positive tour of the United States of America in 2011 played a huge role in setting up his City’s famous first PL title win in 2011–12.
“Clubs have understood how we get there [preseason] more agreable. When we won our first title in 2011-12, that was probably the most important factor and contributed to our success,” explained Lescott.
“The way you can relax, obviously you have to focus on training, but after that there are downtimes and things to do. The players respect what it is and what it means. for the season and what that means for the preparation, but clubs are also realizing that there are also things players need to do.
Growth, clear progression for all
City have a lot planned on their US tour, from hanging out at Houston Astros games, visiting fans in the local community, having player signings and a whole lot more at the iconic Lambeau Field so that their game against Bayern Munich is the first football game ever played at the home of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.
In terms of football in the United States, how far does Lescott think things have progressed since his playing days when he came on numerous pre-season tours in the United States?
“The gap has narrowed in terms of level. Not being the nation’s favorite sport in America impacted progression, that would be the natural consensus,” Lescott said. “I remember going to Houston with one of my previous clubs [Everton] in 2006 and a friend of mine was playing there. It had bleachers, not a stadium, on grass, games couldn’t end in a draw and there was a penalty shootout like ice hockey where you ran from the edge of D and you had some time to score. I was like ‘what the hell is going on!?’ It was surprising to me.
“As for progress [now] they attract some of the best talent in the world, they produce world-class talent themselves, so it all has an impact. I often talk about it with friends, if America chooses to focus on it, then the rest of the world is in trouble because they don’t do things halfway most of the time. If they really wanted to go all-in, and I think they will for the next World Cup, I think there will be a different transition because the focus will be a bit more on the national team.
New stars ready to shine
With Manchester City signing Erling Haaland, Kalvin Phillips, Julian Alvarez and Stefan Ortega this summer, their squad is going from strength to strength and Pep Guardiola’s side are aiming to add even more additions before the end of the transfer window.
“The team and the club are in great shape. With the players they have added, in terms of age and value, it’s an exciting time for Man City and it gets better and better every year,” Lescott said. “With one of the most exciting players of his generation, in Erling Haaland, and one of the brightest talents in the Premier League, in Kalvin Phillips, if they can continue to improve the team , that bodes well for the future.”
“In terms of [Haaland’s] talent, he’s exceptional and it’s going to be high praise and pressure, which I think he can deal with anyway, I don’t see any weakness in his game,” smiled Lescott. “I think he likes the physical battle which helps when you come to the Premier League. We know he can play in the Champions League.
“I was watching when he was playing for Norway against Sweden in the summer and one of the centre-halves was giving him a bit of a stick and he’s risen to the occasion, he’s embracing that side of the game. be there. I want to see someone who believes in their own abilities, that they are able to expose their weaknesses to defenders and put pressure on themselves even before the chance. It reminds a bit of a Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] in this aspect and he knows what he is capable of.
This first glimpse of Haaland in a Manchester City shirt will be against Club America at the NRG Stadium in Houston and then against Bayern Munich in Green Bay. Just like in 2011-12, City will be hoping a positive US tour will lead to plenty of Premier League trophies and success.
Manchester City highlight significance of iconic 2022 USA tour originally appeared on NBCSports.com