x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Tour diary: When Sir Alex hunted for a restaurant

Andy Mitten follows the Manchester United team on and off the field and jot down little interesting details.

Monday 26th July Following a game the previous day in Kansas City, the United players are up at 8am for breakfast and then fly to Houston. Hundreds of fans are waiting at both airports to greet them. They are given a police escort to their hotel, where some of the players are made available to the press, while others hang around the hotel. The hotel staff struggle to discern who is a guest and who is a star spotter. It is almost impossible. Sir Alex Ferguson remains in good spirits though and says to one autograph hunter: "Now you help me. What's a great restaurant in this town?" Tuesday 27th July Dressed in identical black T-shirts and trousers, the players visit the NASA Space centre near Houston. They love it. The club's owners, the Glazer family, are there too. When they return, they do a full training session in the indoor Reliant Stadium, capacity 74,000. Hundreds of invited guests watch, but local youngsters outside complain that they cannot afford to become club members just to see a training session. Wednesday 28th July Match day. The players relax and eat carefully. Everything is about focus. Sir Alex Ferguson tells them the starting line-up four hours before kick-off and explains to the others that they are likely to be involved as substitutes. The players accept that the game minutes are shared out pre-season. United beat the MLS All Stars 5-2 with an excellent performance in front of a huge crowd. Thursday 29th July The players are up early for a flight for another game in Guadalajara, Mexico, to open the new Chivas Stadium.