NEW YORK (July 8, 2010) – Manchester United confirmed today that several of its marquee stars will be included in their final travel roster for their upcoming four-market North American Tour. The list of confirmed international standouts includes legendary midfielder Ryan Giggs (Wales), English standouts Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, as well as Darren Fletcher (Scottland), Dimitar Berbatov (Bulgaria) and Edwin Van der Sar (Holland).
CLICK HERE for tickets to Manchester United vs Philadelphia Union on July 21, 7:30pm at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Red Devils plan to release their full travel roster, as well as team itinerary, prior to their departure from Manchester on Monday.
The 2009 English Premier League champion Manchester United will face the MLS All-Stars in the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Reliant Stadium, in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, July 28 (live on ESPN2 and TeleFutura at 8:30 p.m. ET). The game marks the last stop of the tour, which also includes matches against Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union (July 21 in Philadelphia) and Kansas City Wizards (July 25 in Kansas City), along with Scottish power Celtic F.C. (July 16 in Toronto).
Leading the tour is United Captain Neville, England’s most capped right back with 85 appearances, and a fan favorite since joining the team in 2001. Giggs, a midfielder from Wales, is the Red devils most decorated player, having made more appearances (838) and won more honors that any other player in team history. Scholes has been a staple in the Manchester United midfield since joining the team in 1991. In addition to his 643 club appearances and 149 goals, he has been capped 66 times by the English National Team, having played in two FIFA World Cups.
Fletcher, who has captained the Scottish National Team on several occasions, was selected to the 2009–10 PFA Premier League Team of the Year. Forward Berbatov is the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Bulgarian National Team, and a six-time Bulgarian Player of the Year. He has scored 21 goals since joining Manchester United in 2008. The legendary Van der Sar is the most capped player in the history of the Dutch National Team, and has won the UEFA Champion’s League with two different teams.
Head coach Sir Alex Ferguson and Captain Gary Neville spoke about the tour in anticipation of their arrival to North America. A full transcript of the interviews can be found below.
Manchester United’s North American tour is being presented by Major League Soccer and Creative Artists Agency (CAA). The tour will mark the first time United have played games in this region of the world since 2004.
Led by Ferguson, Manchester United is one of the most recognized clubs in the world, lifting a total of 18 English Premier League titles, four Carling cups, three European Cups and a record 11 FA Cups. In 1999, United were the first team to win the Treble (English Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League) in one season. Founded in 1878, the Red Devils have competed in the top division of English soccer since 1938, with the exception of the 1974-1975 season.
SIR ALEX FERGUSON INTERVIEW
On preseason in North America:
“It’s a very easy country to start with, of course to speak the language is always a help. It’s a very comfortable country, I think, for a football team to go there and the facilities are very good there and improving all the time. If you see the stadiums we are playing in are fantastic. There is a big drive [in the United States to make] soccer, as they call it, into a more essential part of the American sport because as we all know they invented basketball, baseball, the American football. They have soccer. Football is starting to make an impact. It’s a big country…all these kids are playing soccer in the United States, some 12-15 million and with 6 million girls playing soccer, they’ll eventually have to find somewhere for all of them to go. What they don’t have is a permanent system, like we have in England and in other countries, where it all [travels] down to the age levels, building up into what we have -we’ve got conference leagues, all sorts of leagues before you can build up to the professional leagues.”
On Manchester United’s North American fan base:
“Nothing surprises me about our club because it’s got that reputation, it’s got that romance about it. Without doubt it’s probably ourselves and Madrid and Barca and A.C. Milan [that are] the biggest clubs in the world and maybe, after that, one or two others. I think that we stand as one of the biggest clubs in the world and therefore there’s a proof all over that everywhere we go. If you see us in the Far East for instance, it’s incredible, you know, the passion and the number of people that support us in the far east. Even when we went to Saudi Arabia, we played a night game of 60,000 people there a couple a years back. In the States in 2003 and 2004 all the games filled out. That pleases me, I think that’s great, I think that tells you that Manchester United are recognized everywhere in the world and not just the Far East, who we’ve been associated with for quite a few years.”
Goals of the pre-season tour:
“Winning is part of what we have to do here, but the main object is to get everyone game time, come back ready, fit to start the season. Even the starting shield does not come into the agenda in terms of needing to end the game and this has been used by the club as a final part of preparation. Then on the 8th of august, we have internationals during that week and then we have our first game the following Monday against Newcastle.”
On playing in Philadelphia and Lincoln Financial Field:
“It’s a fantastic stadium. We’ve been there before, of course. We’re staying in the same hotel, using the Philadelphia Eagles training grounds, and of course, a new team into the MLS and I’m sure they will be very motivated for the game”
On MLS and American Soccer:
“American soccer is starting to make an impact and it’s so improved. I made that point about the United States team before the World Cup. I said they were going to play like real athletes – the guys are fit, committed, they believe in themselves. I think American football is that way - they’re all fit, athletic, they’ve got [a good feel for] the pitch. You can see that there’s improvement in MLS. I’ve spoken to many people in the last few months about that and there’s a big upsurge.”
GARY NEVILLE INTERVIEW
On Philadelphia and playing against the Union:
“I think it’s a good city. We’ve been there a couple of times before and played good matches there. The fans are very welcoming, the people, welcoming, we’ve been well looked after, always good memories of being there and happy to go back there again.”
“I think [the matches] will be competitive because they will want to do well. This happens a lot in pre-season tours when you play against some of the local teams, it’s the biggest games they’re going to play all season, so they’re really fired up for it, which is good for us because it gives us the competitive football. You usually can find that these games can be a bit tasty so for us, they’re good because it’s exciting for them. They’ve absolutely got a lot of fans watching them for their players. We get the benefit of that because we get a good crowd in a competitive match, which is what we want."
On spending the pre-season in North America:
“The conditions over there, the training facilities, the matches and stadiums are usually fantastic and we’ve had great games there, we’ve had great experiences there in 2003 and 2004. The weather’s is usually good and everything is good for a preseason tour… it’s great place to play football and a good place to be on tour.”
On the amount of Manchester United fans in America:
“I think being here so long I don’t think it ever surprises you how many fans we’ve got around the world. Obviously our fans are everywhere and I think that in USA is no different. They expect to be entertained. Over there they’ve got a lot of sport, but the soccer fans over there, as they call it, are happy to see us, and United are a big club. Certainly the last time we were out there we got big crowds of 75, 80 thousand people wherever we went and the huge crowds in pre-season friendlies."
Goal of pre-season tour:
“Obviously winning is a habit, a mentality and I think we always like to do that, score goals play good football and try to transfer that into the most important thing, which is the start of the season.”
“It’s important because I mean obviously everything that you do in preseason is a build up to start the season, your fitness, your performance levels, playing together as a team and new players sometimes bending in the younger players coming in into the squad, that’s always an opportunity in the preseason. So, no, it’s a good time for the squad to be back together for two, three weeks. It’s important."
On the level of competition:
“It’s always a tough game between us and Celtic. Then you’ve got the other two games against local teams, [who will] be fighting to play the biggest games in their lives against Man United. They’re all really competitive games for different reasons, which should be good for us to get fit, competitive football before the start of the season.”