TOUR NEWS & FEATURES

19/06/2013 10:40, Report by Gemma Thompson
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Nev hails Swedish passion

Gary Neville talks to ManUtd.com about United's final pre-season tour match against AIK in Stockholm...

There is huge passion for Manchester United in Scandinavia and it’ll be an occasion everyone over there is looking forward to.

Friends Arena is a wonderful stadium – I was with England for the opening game there [in November 2012] and it’ll be a great atmosphere and a very competitive game. Swedish teams work hard and they’ll be midway through their season then so they’ll be in full flow and fit. It’ll therefore be a step up for the lads in terms of fitness. I think you always want that in pre-season, though – you want that gradual improvement towards the end of it and just ahead of the Community Shield and first game of the season.

The tour is quite frantic but really helps you with your fitness and the games are of an excellent quality, but this one in particular will raise the quality even more and will be a big step forward with regard to fitness.

Sweden is somewhere I’ve always enjoyed visiting. It’s a different culture of fans compared to when you visit Asia, for example. It’s more measured in Scandinavia than it is in Asia, but they’re as passionate about the club in their own way. I always think Scandinavia is a really good place to go and play football. There are lovely places to visit with good, respectful people. That’s always the nice thing about going over there.

I played against Sweden many times for England and also played alongside two of their most famous exports in Henrik Larsson and Jesper Blomqvist. Henrik was just a fantastic player with a great eye for goal and a really intelligent footballer as well. I had a bad experience of playing in Sweden against Gothenburg in 1994 when Jesper did me for one of the goals! He really was an excellent player. It sounds disrespectful to say this but he was an excellent understudy to Ryan Giggs. He was very slight but had great balance and he was tougher than he looked. And he knew his position very well.

Every pre-season is important and every time Manchester United play a match it’s important, but this time around for the players they really are starting afresh with a new

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