Archive of football trips to friendlies from Abroad Red, featuring the pre-season tour to China in summer 2016, UEFA Super Cup in Macedonia in August 2017 and the 2019 Tour games in Norway & Wales. Read through all the posts about travelling to friendly games.
Almost straight after our return from Oslo we were back on the road again, to Wales where this year’s pre-season concludes in Cardiff with a game against AC Milan. There’s been a couple of League games at the Cardiff City stadium over the past 6 years, but we haven’t visited the much more impressive Millennium Stadium (now thePrincipality Stadium) since the 2005 FA Cup Final, an undeserved defeat to Arsenal.
After a 2 and a half month break following the most underwhelming end to a season in years, United are back. Maybe not quite yet in the sense that we want; Ole has had a tough summer of rebuilding and the challenge this coming season will be to close the gap on Liverpool and City. A massive ask given we finished the season over 30 points behind them. It’s another year of the Europa League too, a competition we’d rather not be in but that we’d hope United can go all the way in.
Now that the dust has settled on another European season it’s time for me to reflect on this year’s travels in the Champions League. Unlike the previous 2 seasons it was spent solely in the top tier of European football, and the for the first time in 4 years we made it to the knock out rounds. In United’s continued period of transition it represented progress, even if it was ultimately uninspiring, ending with the defeat at Old Trafford to Sevilla.
It’s probably fair to say that one of the least anticipated games of the season is one that usually comes first – not all, or just any, but the “curtain-raiser” of the English season, the Community Shield. Few really remember the outcome of this game between the previous season’s league and cup winners, and it’s rarely acknowledged as a trophy, even if it does kick the season off positively as United experienced last year.
Following 4 nights in Shanghai and a first taste of Chinese culture, the next stop in my trip was Beijing for United’s game vs City on 25th July. This was due to take place in the impressive Birds Nest stadium, China’s national stadium built for the 2008 summer Olympics. First though, I had to make the 700+ mile journey between the two cities.
After maybe 3 months of planning from first conceiving the thought of travelling to China, my trip to see United’s preseason tour in Shanghai and Beijing finally came into being. In that time I’d managed to just about sketch out my 2 weeks in the country, learn some (very) basic Mandarin and also change jobs. A whirlwind few months which worked out well, just enough time to sort all of my travel and tickets without anxiously over-planning my first trip to Asia.
2015/16 was a season of unpredictability in Europe, ultimately disappointment with an early exit from the Champions League and then from the Europa League last 16. When I summarised my season of travels in March I was optimistic about United’s chances of securing a top 4 finish and with 3 games of the season left there is still a glimmer of a chance of making it. Either way, we’ve almost certainly got a place in the Europa League with 5th/6th in the league virtually guaranteed and an FA Cup final still to compete in. It’s not the level we’d quite like to see United compete at but it still provides an opportunity to travel to some of the smaller footballing nations of Europe.