Manchester United’s board are considering a series of lucrative friendly games to make up for the lack of European football at Old Trafford this term.
The Red Devils’ failure to qualify for the Champions League and early exit from the League Cup means they face just three midweek fixtures for the rest of 2014.
Ever a team to capitalise on a potential financial gain, United are now hoping to use the gaps in the calendar to organise friendlies around the world in a similar vein to their pre-season tours.
After watching 100,000 people flock to see United against Real Madrid this summer managing director Richard Arnold says lucrative overseas games are something the club will “continue to look at”.
Arnold insists that manager Louis van Gaal, who bemoaned the amount of travel United’s pre-season schedule demanded, is on board but if United are to regain their seat at the top table such games should be avoided at all costs.
Most of the top level teams around Europe will be involved in either the Champions League or Europa League until well into next year leaving any prospective ties to be played much further afield.
Van Gaal would do well to note how well Liverpool performed in the Premier League last year without the fixture congestion that European competition brings.
United have gone for unconventional fixtures before, opting out of the 2000 FA Cup in order to play in the inaugural Fifa Club World Cup.
The Old Trafford side were dumped out of that competition in the group stage and should see that as a warning against varying from a traditional schedule.
With Ander Herrera recently added to an injury list including Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini the last thing the Dutchman needs is added pressure on an ailing squad.
As a global brand United cannot bear to be out of the spotlight on big European nights and the introduction of in-season friendlies has obvious financial appeal.
However, the club’s non-involvement in Europe this season is entirely of their own doing and as such they should take the punishment on the chin rather than set what could be a bad precedent for other club’s to follow.
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