Manchester United big winners both on and off the field in Australia
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Manchester United's Robin Van Persie celebrates with Jesse Lingardafter scoring during their exhibition match at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Saturday, July 20, 2013. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
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Manchester United were simply spectacular on Saturday night. The guy who wore his Fernando Torres jersey and sat next to me was not.
From their clinical attack to their solidity in defense, the English champions were nothing short of mesmerising against the A-League All Stars.
They were every bit the entertainers that the crowd desperately wanted them to be, and completely and utterly deserving of their first victory under new manager David Moyes.
With five spectacular goals to their name, the Red Devils were crowned as winners on the field on Saturday night, but the same could equally be said off it as well.
Their Australian tour has been a success, not just because they picked up a victory from the friendly match, but because they made a million small victories along the way in the hearts and minds of anyone who watched them play.
Over 80,000 people flowed in to the ANZ Stadium to create a sea of red and white, and surely millions more watched United live on their television screens.
Having witnessed a fair share of sporting events at ANZ Stadium ranging from Grand Finals to Olympic events, people present at the stadium would surely have been blown away by the one-sided support that United received despite being the away team.
Manchester United were swamped at their training session on Friday night, and they filled up an Olympic stadium the corresponding night. Had it been possible, they would likely have got closer to 800,000 people turn up to watch them play.
That’s the appeal, and draw, of Manchester United.
And while the game it’self might be remembered for some spectacular goals from Danny Welbeck and Jesse Lingard, that’s not what made United such big winners from their Australian tour. Neither is the fact that they dominated a supposed team of “stars” and made them look like division-14 footballers.
No, this tour was a success for more than what happened on the field.
It was all the t-shirts, jackets, programs, replica balls, jerseys and tickets sold that led to it being a success. It was all the fans that they were hounded by everywhere they went. It was all the memories that were created and legacies that were left.
And in a way, their biggest success is that for years, people will be talking about the fact that they got to witness Manchester United.
For they got to witness international stars in Robin van Persie and Rio Ferdinand. They witnessed a club legend in Ryan Giggs and the latest young talent in Wilfried Zaha. The fans – all 80,000 of them – were given an experience that they’ll likely never have again and a memory that they will cherish forever.
You can’t buy that, and you certainly can’t make it happen on the field.
That type of thing just happens, and it happened in a big way for Manchester United. And so regardless of what happens over the remainder of the summer transfer window (or indeed the 2013/14 Premier League season), Manchester United will remain winners in the eyes of Australian fans right around the world.
Even the guy in his Fernando Torres jersey was impressed.