Magic memories made in Melbourne
“You see something is rising.”
Erik ten Hag was clear in his assessment of Tour 2022 so far when he spoke exclusively to us at the half-way point of the trip in Melbourne.
And it’s fair to say that the passion, interest and excitement around United was well on the rise throughout our week-long stay in the city as the Reds packed out the famous MCG for two memorable matches.
Ten Hag’s men were the star attraction for friendly games against Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace as United fans Down Under were treated to enjoyable wins. Our new manager had said earlier in the tour that “we don’t do friendlies” and that was evident from the off on this trip.
A 4-0 victory against Liverpool in Bangkok was followed by another four-goal blitz against Victory, who took a surprising early lead in front of a buoyant crowd inside Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The hugely impressive stadium with its 100,000 capacity is pretty mind-blowing, especially when it’s decked out with fans.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to numerous arenas across the globe with the Reds across Europe, Asia, America and Australia and I was lucky enough to be inside ‘The Big House’ in Michigan when some 109,000 supporters crammed inside.
That was some spectacle and will take some topping, but it’s fair to say I’ve been mega-wowed by the MCG or ‘The G’ as it’s known locally.
Added to the extraordinary structure and history of this amazing arena, we’ve now had three memorable results on its soil.
Following on from our 2-0 victory here back in the summer of ’99, post-Treble, this last week has seen further United goals from Scott McTominay, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. An own goal wrapped things up against Victory and Reds’ fans were treated to a reunion with a familiar face as 2008 Champions League winner Nani made his debut for the Aussies having just flown in and completed a move to Melbourne a day or so earlier.
Another enjoyable night under ‘The G’ lights against Crystal Palace followed with Martial, Rashford and Jadon Sancho on target with three fine finishes, the second and third of which were superb team moves. A 3-1 win ensued, much to the delight of the 76,000 fans present.
While Manchester has been basking in a record-shattering heatwave, the Reds have been training and playing in a frost-bitten Melbourne... yes, you read that right! No matter the weather, United have certainly got some excellent training work under their belts on this tour with ten Hag being hands-on and fully engaged in every session and three wins out of three has been the perfect resulting tonic.
The team (and the travelling staff) have been welcomed with open arms by everyone we’ve come across on this trip so far and the passion of the fans in both Bangkok and Melbourne is something that’s been a joy to see after three years of no tours thanks to the C word. And the manager and the players have made sure to fully reciprocate the love with photos and autographs at every opportunity.
One of the local papers had the headline, 'United turn Melbourne red' splashed across their pages after our first victory and it's definitely a fair reflection on the back of our latest victory over Palace.
Manchester memories have certainly been made in the last week in Melbourne... see you soon, Perth!