Director of youth football Jim Ryan sat down to discuss his season at the club, including the trip to Texas, where he played in the 1970s with NASL outfit Dallas Tornado.
The 67-year-old looks back on the tournament and the season in general at Carrington, developing the young talent at the club.
First of all, you were away with the Reserves for the Dallas Cup. How did that go?
I think it was a very good trip. First of all, physically, the boys were tested almost to the limits. Secondly, because we had such a small squad of players, who had to play in different positions.
Were lessons learned playing against different styles of teams and with different match officials?
I think there were differences. We played against a Mexican team who were quite aggressive, Everton of course, a team we play against at home and a Brazilian team in the final. I think the game against Everton was one of the best performances out there. I don’t know what the possession stats were, but we were very good and created chances and more or less dominated the game. We’ve always gone to tournaments saying the referee will be different. In fact, I consider most foreign referees to be better than their English counterparts but I think he probably got a couple of decisions wrong in the final.
Yet, despite the adversity we faced against Coritiba, we almost pulled it out of the bag..
To score a goal like that with nine men, and to have three or four other chances and force absolute panic in their box, was just amazing. I don’t know how the boys would’ve got through extra time as they were at their physical limit. In fact, I have a feeling the final itself may have been a step too far for them maybe. The same 11-12 boys were going every time and they were cup ties with no chance to take any time and relax. They were very competitive games.
Did the small squad make it particularly difficult and will it make United think twice about entering similar competitions in the future?
I think it’s just a normal thing. I’m not trying to appear to be smart but when we elected to take it on in September, it looked like we’d got plenty of players.