Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Manchester United gear up for US tour

The players prepare to jet out
The players prepare to jet out
Premier League champions Manchester United will warm up for the task of retaining their title with their first match since the Champions League final on Wednesday at midnight against New England Revolution.

And for Fergie it will be a match-up with former Liverpool player Steve Nicol.

Fergie was Nicol’s boss at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico when the Reds manager was in temporary charge of the national side.

Nicol, who won five titles with the Merseysiders in his 13 years at Anfield, has been head coach at New England Revolution since 2002.

United then move to Seattle for the second match of the trip. Having had a week’s break since the opener, they will play Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field in the early hours of Thursday morning, July 20 (3am BST).

Three days later, on Saturday July 23, United will meet Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in Illinois (10pm BST).

And it is a challenge Chicago’s interim head coach Frank Klopas is relishing.

“You have to put things in perspective – we’re up against a team who will just be starting their pre-season preparations and the main exercise for them will be to hone their fitness,” he said.

“It’s a game for our players to enjoy, but of course we want to do our best and a positive result can definitely help from a confidence standpoint. Obviously, the size of their squad and the quality of the players is very different to what we’re used to. United are a team that likes to play good football and pass the ball around. It’ll be a good test for us and one we’re looking forward to.

“We like to pass the ball around as well and we have good pace on the wings. In some games you need to be a bit more direct and we have the players to do that as well.

“United have some pretty big centre-backs so I don’t think we’ll have much success against them in the air. We’ll be looking to get in behind them and use our pace instead. It should be exciting.

“It’ll be an honour to test myself against Sir Alex Ferguson.

“What he has achieved for so many years at the top level is quite amazing. It’s not easy to manage a club of that size and consistently win trophies, but he’s done it and he’s been able to keep producing top teams. I have tremendous respect for him and he is a great person to learn from.”

United move on for the July 27 match with David Beckham and the MLS All-Stars, who will also include former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry in their line-up. Kick off is 2am BST on Thursday, July 28.

The five-match tour concludes with the mouth-waterer against Barcelona at midnight, Saturday July 30.

The rerun of the Champions League final will give the Reds an opportunity for revenge after the Wembley thrashing by the Spaniards.

But Pep Guardiola won’t have Lionel Messi to call on this time as the Argentine genius will be on holiday following CopaAmerica duty with his country this summer.

United will have new boys Phil Jones and David de Gea joining the rest of the squad on tour at some point during the trip following their duties for England and Spain at the European Under-21 Championships last month.

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