Seasons come, seasons go... stars arrive and stars depart...
Gulf’s sporting partners, Manchester United rounded off the 2016/17 season with a superb result in the Final of the Europa League, beating Dutch side, Ajax Amsterdam 2-0 in Stockholm.
Goals in either half from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan saw United lift their second trophy of the season, after United’s EFL League Cup win in the spring. The Europa Cup is the only major European or Domestic competition that United had never previously won, so their trophy cabinet is now complete but, perhaps even more significantly, it guarantees Manchester United a place in the 2017/18 Champions League competition.
With a double cup win and a place in the Champions League secured, United’s season was certainly a successful one, but no sooner had the season ended than thoughts turned to the AON Summer tour and, of course, the season to come. This means a degree of re-shaping of the squad and Sweden international Victor Lindelof has already been confirmed as the Reds' first arrival, after sealing a move from Benfica last month.
Injured striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out of contract after his deal expired, but speculation still exists that, once returned to fitness after his knee injury, “Ibra” might still find a place in the United squad, after what was a very impressive spell in Manchester.
United have just had their offer accepted to bring striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton, for a reported $96million and, going the other way, is Club Captain, Wayne Rooney, who returns to his boyhood club on Merseyside, after 12 fantastic years at United.
More signings will almost certainly follow, but in the meanwhile United’s close season is an extremely busy one away from the transfer market.
The club has just announced its new match shirts for the coming season (away shirt above left, home shirt above centre), while the squad has now flown to the USA ahead of the AON pre-season tour (below).
The series of games has Jose Mourinho’s men taking on leading American sides LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake, as well as local rivals Manchester City and ultimately the two iconic Spanish teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona - while still in the USA - before returning to Europe to face Norway’s Valerenga and Italian side, Sampdoria.
On 8th August a number of fortunate Gulf guests will be present as United play Champions League winners, Real Madrid, for the second time in as many weeks in the UEFA Supercup competition – a chance for some silverware before the season even starts in earnest.
In the meanwhile, the fixtures for 2017/18 have already been announced, and United kick off their season, on August 12th, with a home match against West Ham.
A marvellous season enjoyed, a fresh new beginning ahead!