Manchester United entered the new year within touching distance of Premier League leaders Liverpool, despite a rocky start to the campaign.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side opened 2021 with a win over Aston Villa on New Year’s Day, and are currently level on points with their old rivals having played a game less.
United enjoyed a fruitful festive period, and haven’t lost a league game since the start of November.
The Red Devils will have to endure a torrid fixture schedule in the second half of the campaign, with at least 25 games still to come in the next four-and-a-half months – and that’s if they don’t progress any further in the FA Cup or Champions League.
With so many games to play, Solskjaer will have to be cautious about rotating his side and keeping his players fresh.
His first-team squad – specifically his attackers – will also have to be smart about how they play in order to keep themselves fit and avoid burnout.
The likes of Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood would all be sorely missed if they suffer injuries late in the season as a result of fatigue.
Solskjaer will likely be drilling into them the same thing that his mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson, told Wayne Rooney during his playing days.
Rooney was famous for his all-out approach to the game, and was known for running himself into the ground early on in games.
But Ferguson quickly drilled into him that he won’t be as impactful in the long-term if he didn’t conserve his energy.
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And writing for The Times last year, the legendary striker revealed that was the most important piece of advice he ever received.
“You learn little things along the way,” he explained.
“The best advice I received was from Fergie.
“He’d say ‘you’re working too hard’ and at first I thought, ‘What do you mean? Isn’t that what you want?’
“But I used to try to run as hard as I could for 90 minutes and in the last ten minutes be tired.
“The manager wanted his strikers to keep a little bit in the tank, because that match-winning chance might not arrive until the 90th minute.”
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