Manchester United begins its North American tour with a match against Celtic in Toronto tonight. Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad, missing several key members through injury or an extended summer break, takes on the Scots in the first of a six match summer tour. Four further matches also follow before the tour ends in Mexico on 30 July.
Ferguson, keen to draft in younger players whom the Scot believes will become the basis of next season’s squad, and without the club’s World Cup players, has taken a much weakened squad to North America for the three-week tour. Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Antonio Valencia, Anderson, Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves also remained in Manchester recuperating from injury.
Indeed, it is likely to be an experimental line-up that takes to the Rogers Centre field tonight, with Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Javier Hernández and Park Ji-Sung also absent from the party that crossed the pond earlier this week.
Canadian supporters’ loss is younger players’ gain, with the da Silva brothers, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda all hoping to feature in tonight’s match against Neil Lennon’s Scots.
The match should also include débutant Chris Smalling, whose £10 million arrival from Fulham was sealed six months ago. After a tough second half to the season with the London club Smalling will gain much from pre-season, not least with Ferdinand and Vidic both missing.
United arrived in Toronto today for the match at the 50,000 capacity Rogers Centre despite the squad’s flight from Chicago being delayed due to bad weather. But with ten days fitness training behind it – four of them in the US – tonight is the first time United has kicked a ball in anger since May.
“We are excited about the game as we have completed 10 days of pre-season training,” said Darren Fletcher, who could captain the side tonight Ferdinand and Neville’s absence.
“Being Scottish, Celtic is an interesting match for me. Training has been difficult but I am sure we will feel the benefits once the season gets under way.
“It was hot enough in Manchester but the heat and humidity in Chicago was something else. It takes a little bit more out of you in training. But it is good preparation for what lies ahead.”
Ferguson, starting his 25th season in charge of United, is likely to make wholesale changes at half-time with most of the 23-man tour party offered some minutes on the pitch against the Scottish giants.
“You have to be careful as you are not accustomed to playing 90 minutes as your body has had a rest,” adds Fletcher.
“So I would not be surprised to see the minutes managed by the coaching staff. I can see players perhaps playing 60 minutes or half a game with a lot of changes. It means everyone will get a fair share of playing time.”
United then travel 500 miles south to Pennsylvania, where Ferguson team takes on the local MLS side Philadelphia Union next Wednesday.
United team from: Edwin van der Sar, Tomasz Kuszczak, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov, John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Rafael, Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher, Darron Gibson, Chris Smalling, Nani, Fabio, Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck, Mame Biram Diouf, Tom Cleverley, Ritchie De Laet, Corry Evans, Ben Amos, Gabriel Obertan.
Summer tour begins with Celtic(40 posts) (10 voices)
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i am hoping to see a starting XI of
———–Van Der Sar
I don't care about friendlies. Even though, I'm not actually looking forward to the new season with any great deal of anticipation I still wish it would start tomorrow. I know this doesn't make any sense but....oh well. I'm looking forward to the routine of football being on as opposed to what I actually expect to be on offer.
anyone watchin the game?"Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don't need badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching' tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you."
Fuckin hell, Scholes can still pass with the best.
Pretty good crowd.
Finally found a stream http://www.firstrow.net/watch/21789/1/watch-celtic-vs-manchester-united.html
Quality is shite though
Obertan you twat.
Should have scored.
Aye, good move though
Shitloads of pace in this team
Giggs' creativity in the middle is ace
This is a crackin game for a friendly.
Great goal. Berbs.
We're just takin Celtic apart at will right now.
Great finish, Berba
I'd forgotten how exciting Obertan is to watch. If he can just use his head more he might become a player.
Berbatov is having a great game so far.
Obertan is the new EIH.
It's a Scholes masterclass this
Imagine Sneijder and Scholes in the middle next season, with Fletcher to provide the graft
I wanna see it before the ginger price retires
Fuckin hell... Fergie looks like he's put on a few pounds.
Good first half.
That looks like our future first 4 in defense.
Fletcher looks like he can't wait for the season proper to start.
And Berbatov looks like he's had a good break and is ready to go.
Fuck sake... some mesmerising footwork from Obertan and Berbatov.
Bollocks... Smalling... very clumsy defending... penalty.
What difference once Scholes is off.
No one controling the play.
Fantastic play from Berbatov to set up Welbeck... 2-1
Fuckin hell, I hope this is a sign of the season to come from Berbatov... he has been outstanding.
Beautiful skill to set up Cleverly... 3-1
Game over and I'm happy as hell.
First game of the preseason, and a great way to start... the Toronto crowd was excellent, the game was played at a surprising tempo for a friendly and some of the play was much better than preseason... especially from Berbatov.
Smalling got turned badly and then had a brain cramp... to give away a silly penalty... otherwise looked good.
The Twins looked OK and Evans looks to be fit and ready to go.
Fletcher looks like he's been training on raw meat and violence... Obertan showed more promise... Giggs looks well rested and Doofus?... well... still not sure about him.
Berbatov was brilliant. If that was an example of what he's offering this season then we don't need any more strikers.
Scholes only played 45, but looked excellent... and that highlighted our biggest problem... we know that we're not going to get more than 20/25 decent games from him, and we don't have anyone who even comes close to doing what he can do.
When Scholes doesn't play... what do we do? We have to play a completely different way, and that just promotes inconsistant play.
Never mind Balotelli or Benzema... we need a midfield maestro.
Between Rooney and Berbatov... and hopefully Hernandez... we've got 3 top strikers, and plenty of backup with Welbeck, Macheda and Doofus.
What we really need is a player that controls the game... a midfiled pivot that's always available to receive the ball, with great vision and the full range of passes... Scholes.
Whatever money we have, (if any)... we've got to find a replacement, or at least understudy for Scholes.
We do that, and I think we'll be alright.
Agree with you regarding the creative player. Last season we just didn't have any creativity at all. If we dont get a creative player we are quite simply fucked. If not Sneijder, atleast Honda or some unknown. But someone who can think of a plan B when plan A isn't working.
Also if Fletcher has improved his shooting it would be fantastic. Last season he made some terrific runs only to be let down by his finishing. I'm really looking forward to see how Fletcher has developed.
If Obertan gets the chance to play ahead of Giggs and Valencia, I'm all for not buying a left winger. He is looking good in bursts and only by playing him we'll know if he is good enough or not for an entire season.
I'm still not convinced with Berbatov. His skill was never in question. It's his lack of balls thats frustrating. He just goes into hiding when we need him the most.I don't see him improving in that aspect.
Berba and Hernandez might be a delicious combo -- Berba flicking on a player with such pace could really unlock a lot of defences. I think Obertan has great potential, he looks like a rough diamond, but we've a very good track record recently for drilling some end product into that kind of player (such as Ronaldo and Nani). I've heard talk that some people think Obertan might end up being better in the middle than on the wing, but even if that's true and he comes good, I don't see him being good enough to provide the creative force we need this season.
On tactics: thing is if we are playing two forwards, which we tend to do when Berba is playing, that only leaves space for two central midfielders. That means our creative force has to be a decent ball winner too. Would it be impossible to turn Berba into something like a very advanced midfielder? Because he has bags of creativity and great ball retention skills.
The reason I would be very excited if we got Balotelli is because he is the kind of forward we had when we had a devastatingly effective "4-6-0" formation a couple of season ago with Ronaldo, Rooney, and Tevez moving about up front. Balotelli can play across the pitch, like Nani and Rooney, and with the three of them we'd have a really dangerous, mobile trio again. Then with players like Berba and Hernandez, we also have a completely different attacking option to use, a fantastic Plan B against a parked bus.
Despite all the pessimism, I honestly do think we are only one or two pieces short of the full jigsaw puzzle, so here's hoping one of the younger players steps up and fills in one of those pieces, and maybe we'll splash on bringing in one good player to be the other one.
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