LANDOVER, Md. — Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson pronounced himself pleased with all facets of his club’s summer tour of the United States after Saturday night’s 2-1 friendly win over FC Barcelona at FedEx Field, praising his side’s rising crop of young players and looking ahead to another year of trophy hunting in the top echelons of England and Europe.
“We wanted to go into the season in a winning frame of mind, and we’ve achieved that," Ferguson told members of the media at a postgame press conference deep inside the Washington Redskins’ cavernous home stadium, where Saturday’s crowd set a new Washington-area record for attendance at a soccer match. "It’s been a good tournament for us."
“Some young players have joined us, they’ve done well in terms of settling in with players they don’t really know, and that’s always a good thing to watch in a three-week spell. So we’re happy winning the match, and we move on now back home and hopefully we keep our form.”
The veteran Scottish boss played down the idea that the victory represented any sort of vengeance for United’s loss to Barcelona in May's Champions League final, preferring instead to emphasize the fitness and momentum being gathered in the run-up to next week’s Community Shield showdown against city rivals Manchester City and the onset of Premier League play.
“To be honest with you, you saw both teams made a lot of changes and so it’s difficult to gauge exactly the importance of the result, really,” said Ferguson, surely mindful of the fact that Barça stars Xavi, Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué did not suit up. “For me, I’m sure that we’re fit, I’m sure we’ve got a good squad, I’ve got some good young players coming through. So these are all pluses in terms of a squad able to deal with the demands of the English game, and European, of course.”
But the Red Devils’ leader was less than pleased with questions about a new report in English newspaper the Daily Mail claiming that Manchester United have been in advanced negotiations with Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder, only for Ferguson to grow frustrated by the player’s exorbitant wage demands.
“It’s absolute nonsense,” said Ferguson when asked repeatedly whether the Dutch playmaker has been offered a contract. “That's nonsense. I'm done with this question.”
Ferguson later stopped in the mixed zone on the way to the team bus to deliver some heated remarks to a member of the Daily Mail staff.
A perfect 5-0-0 record after two weeks in the USA should help him forget the incident on the plane ride back to England on Saturday night.