The extracts on this page are taken from selected national newspapers. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United.
United forced to take centre-stage
When Manchester United beat Palmeiras to win the Toyota Cup in Japan in 1999, they were away for six days all in, travelling and playing. When they play the absurd FIFA Club World Cup next month it will be nine days away. As Sir Alex Ferguson knows so well, it is the small things that make the big differences over the course of a season. The FIFA Club World Cup, conceived out of the embarrassment of the abandoned World Club Championship in which United played in 2000, is another project built on the vanity of Sepp Blatter. Not content with allowing UEFA, with its work on what was once the European Cup, to be the only major governing body which has cocked up a perfectly good cup format, the FIFA president had had a go at it himself and came up with a corker.
This ridiculously bloated competition has taken the place of a perfectly good one-off game – once the Intercontinental Cup, latterly the Toyota Cup. It was simple: the European Cup winners against the winners of the South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores, which was played, from 1980, in Japan. It was a strange game but pleasingly exotic, given the South American opposition, with a few Japanese quirks thrown in, too.
Sam Wallace, Independent
Elsewhere, Peter Ferguson, writing in The Daily Mail, raves about Dimitar Berbatov. He writes: “Cristiano Ronaldo put two goals away, leaving him one short of his United 100, but if he is soon to be anointed the best player in the world, Berbatov is quickly staking his cultured claim to a place on the shortlist. Comparisons with United icon Eric Cantona are off-target. Berbatov shares the Frenchman's arrogance but is a better player. If it is unthinkable now that the Alice band should supersede the raised collar, look again in a couple of years.”