Where have United started pre-season?

Tuesday 11 July 2023 07:00

Manchester United begin a bumper pre-season campaign on Wednesday, when we face Leeds United in Oslo.

It’s the first of eight friendlies Erik ten Hag’s side will play between now and Sunday 6 August, when we’ll come up against Athletic Club in Dublin, just over a week before our Premier League campaign begins.

All the games, including those from our tour of the United States, will be available to watch live on MUTV – the only place you’ll be able to see every kick of our on-pitch preparations for 2023/24.

For now, attention turns to Norway, a country we’ve played in regularly in recent years, due to the feverish support we boast over there. Atletico Madrid were the opposition at the Ullevaal Stadion last summer, while we went up against Kristiansund there four years ago.

You’d have to go back to 1992, and the summer before the first Premier League season, for the last time we kicked off our preparations in the Scandinavian country, though.

Watch MUTV: The home of pre-season


All eight of United's summer friendlies, including those on Tour 2023, will be shown live on our official channel.

IK Start – a team from Kristiansand in southern Norway – were the opposition then, and goals from Clayton Blackmore, Mark Hughes and Danny Wallace helped United to a 3-0 win in front of 4,118 people.

In the three decades since, we’ve started our pre-season schedule in 11 other countries, with the US the most regular destination.

Celtic were the opposition in Seattle back in 2003, while New England was the first stop on Tour 2011.

Although we will cross the pond for the first time in five years later this month, the States hosted United’s maiden pre-season game in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018, with Club America the opponents twice in that time.

Neighbours Canada hosted our opener in 2010 as Toronto’s Rogers Centre saw goals from Dimitar Berbatov, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley defeat Celtic 3-1.

Global trips are the norm these days, but the Reds have started five recent summers in England, including the unusual 2020 and 2021 campaigns, when the Covid-19 pandemic made international travel impossible.

We faced Aston Villa and Derby County in those years, while Wigan (2016), York City (2000) and Birmingham City (1998) have all hosted presumably lucrative friendlies against United.

Seven of United’s Premier League-era terms have begun in Asia, including last summer’s preparations under Erik ten Hag – we beat Liverpool 4-0 in Bangkok, on what was our third visit to Thailand.

90 in 20: United v Liverpool Video

90 in 20: United v Liverpool

Catch up on the extended highlights of our entertaining first match on Tour 2022...

Malaysia has also been the destination on three occasions, most recently in 2009, while Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds forced a 2-2 draw against United in Saitama back in 2007, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Darren Fletcher our scorers.

Our 1999 and 2019 campaigns took off on opposite sides of Australia, as the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Perth’s Optus Stadium hosted 2-0 wins over the national side and Perth Glory respectively.

In Sir Alex Ferguson’s time, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland were regular pre-season trips and we also travelled to Northern Ireland in 1996 – a game against Portadown was the first chance fans had to see the recent Double winners in action following the FA Cup final triumph over Liverpool at Wembley.

United take on Perth Glory at the Optus Stadium in 2019.

The eager-eyed among you may have spotted there is one country left and the Reds ventured to South Africa in 1993, 2006 and 2012.

Our squad was honoured to meet soon-to-be-president Nelson Mandela during the initial two trips, the first of which started with a 2-0 friendly defeat against Arsenal in Johannesburg.

Durban was the destination in 2006 and 2012, for victories over Orlando Pirates and AmaZulu.