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Man Utd 2-3 Inter Milan

Manchester United lost 3-2 at Old Trafford this evening, in an entertaining friendly with Inter Milan. Read more

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A look at our rivals part 1: Chelsea

Our resident Man Utd supporter from Holland, Alwyn de Bruijn is there this week to catch up with Chelsea’s pre-season tour with their game against Feyenoord.
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Ajax 0-1 Man Utd

The Premiership and Champions League may seem a long way off with the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona hanging around but United have netted a trophy already this season so it is not all bad! Whilst this means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, it is always good fun for the players and fans to lift silverware (albeit plastic) in the sunshine.

After a day of tourist activity, boat cruises, sex museums and walks in the red light district we headed back to the stadium again on Saturday night making the same journey as the previous day. This time the train was busier, full of Ajax fans hoping to do over the English big boys. The stadium was packed out unlike the Friday and we got to watch the end of a great game in which Inter beat Porto 3-2 before United came on. That result meant United needed a win or a goal scoring draw to lift the trophy. United could even afford to lose if they scores twice as the point for each goal would be enough to seal top spot in the mini table.

United’s team looked especially lightweight. Rossi was up front alone and the responsibility all seemed to lie on Ryan Giggs’ head, who was supposed to be captain, support Rossi and control the midfield all at once, whilst being on hand to give advice to the younger players too. Giggs came through too; creating and assisting every chance that came United’s way through the game and, eventually, scoring the winning goal. There is little doubt that United could have been beaten fairly heavily without his presence, despite the final score. An injury early on to Carrick was worrying and added to the team’s lack of experience.

This was a thrilling context in which United’s kids looked more than comfortable at the back, but failed to create up front. All United’s chances came from Giggs set pieces, whether they be freekicks hitting the bar or corners floating perfectly across the area. It was fitting that it was he who scored the winner with a beautifully hit free kick, after Ajax had seen a penalty saved by Edwin Van der Saar and Rossi had been hacked down clean through later on.

United won the match, lifted the meaningless trophy, then left the field leaving Reds to pour back to the city centre. Another night of fun lay ahead.

All in all this was a good warm up tournament for United and the play was great at times. However, injuries to Ferdinand, Carrick and O’Shea plus the two red cards made it an expensive trip too. We have to wait to see what Rooney’s and Scholes’ punishments are but no doubt, being United, it will be 3 match bans all round.

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Porto 1-3 Man Utd

The announcement that United were playing in Amsterdam preseason was surely greeted by more excitement from fans than players. Legal and cheap booze, whores and drugs seemed to be the tone for many of the travelling contingent, judging by the state of half the crowd at the stadium and after the game in town anyway. The players, stuck in their hotel with nowhere to go and nothing to do, must have wished they were not back in training yet, especially with chants of ‘we’re going out on the town with Rooney’ came from the top corner of the Amsterdam arena.

This was undoubtedly a good trip for all Reds to go; a great city, wonderful stadium, perfect weather and finally an end to World Cup fever. We arrived in Dam late Friday morning and spent the day relaxing and exploring before heading off to the ground. It is amazing how well other cities can organise transport and logistics compared to us. We arrived at the stadium in no time and lingered around for a while before heading up the ridiculously long staircase to the away section. Surrounded by netting and glass visors between us and the pitch, it somehow did not have too much of a friendly feel. The players were greeted with a cheer as they warmed up and the drunken Reds stumbled into the seats as kick off approached. As we were playing Porto most of the locals seemed to give this one a miss and the stadium was pretty empty as we scored twice early on. Scholes looked back to his best as he controlled the game and smashed home from outside the area to open United’s account for the tournament. Soon after Rooney pounced on a loose ball and chipped over the keeper. Game over it seemed.

However, United never seem to make it easy for themselves and big players always seem to attract controversy. Rooney was sent off, again against Portuguese opposition, which must have please the headline writers no end. Soon after Scholes was off too and Porto swarmed the United goal. Wonderful saves from both Van der Saar and Ben Foster kept the score safe but it seemed inevitable that the lead would be cut shortly. However, hero Ole had other ideas. Stranded up front by himself he was not getting the ball and had 3 men marking him. He drifted wide, picked up a long ball on the wing, ran inside all alone and hit the back of the net. Stunning composure and ability. For any Red to see Ole score is a wonderful occasion, and the away end celebrated the scorer more than the goal. Porto’s consolation goal and subsequent efforts seemed irrelevant.

The final whistle sounded and 9 men United had won the match, netting 3 goals which all gave them extra points in the strangely formatted tournament aimed at encouraging open and attacking play. Few Reds wanted to stay and watch Ajax v Inter Milan, especially when the red lights of Amsterdam were waiting a few miles away. So out on the town we went, following a sing song on the metro back to town which was packed with Reds. The rest of the night proved good fun for us and many other United supporters.

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Celtic 0-3 Man Utd

t has been a strange summer for Reds. The world cup helped pass the time in some ways, but simultaneously seemed to make the wait for proper football worse. With Rooney and Ronaldo in the headlines Reds have also been torn, most expressing a degree of anger at the Portuguese winger but also accepting they will defend him when the rest of the country attacks. The usual excitement ahead of the new season has been clouded by anxiety, a lack of signings, players leaving, a scary reworking of the infamous debt, unsold tickets and rivals spending cash for fun.

A preseason trip to Celtic would usually create a buzz but this was flat as a pancake. With probably no more than 1000 Reds in an allocation of 3000 seats, this was a real symbol of change. Afterall, Celtic managed to bring 27,000 to Old Trafford in May despite the tickets costing double. Our support was moody, expressing anger at the Glazers, at the lack of signings and at the gloomy future prospects of our club. What ought to have been a fun and friendly match in the sunshine was instead an opportunity for fans to show anger and frustration at a club who thinks 33 year olds returning from injury is as good as major signings. That argument dismisses the inevitability that others will get injured in their place.

The game itself was good. United’s reserves wiped Celtic aside with Scholes leading the team. He got two goals himself and young Jonny Evans scored his first for the club. Celtic fans were silent, booing Liam Miller but sitting in silence the rest of the time. I do not think many Reds there liked Miller any more than the home fans, with chants of “Liam Miller is a football genius” sarcastically ringing out. The United crowd was loud throughout, despite many present being part time Scottish Reds and total muppets in their new AIG shirts. The faithful mixed amongst them received hell throughout from the police and stewards with one Red even thrown out for having a lid on his plastic bottle of water. Another seemed to be thrown out for holding up a United flag too high; strange. A group of five stewards later proceeded to bully a group of young kids who wanted to keep a ball that went into the crowd, it was pathetic and shameful.

So anyway, proper football is almost back. It has been a dreadful summer and a poor preseason so far, despite not conceding a goal. Fans are worried, the club seem to being doing little about it, and more players are likely to leave than arrive. It is a long way from the likes of Ballack and Shevchenko arriving in London. The only smile can be raised from a t shirt on show at Celtic last night that read, “Manchester is famous for football, not a flower show.” I doubt we will be having the last laugh in May though.

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