Boys off to Boot Camp
In a remarkable, totally un-NUFC move, the club have passed up a PR exercise with Brand Beckham and selling shirts to the Far Eastern masses to actually prepare for the forthcoming season. United have found themselves very much in demand in the close season - especially in Asia - but Glenn Roeder is not in favour and the manager will instead take his first-team squad to a training camp, probably in Denmark.
We were invited to take part in the Peace Cup in Korea for a seven-figure sum to have another crack at the Asia Cup and a tour of Japan. In addition, there was talk of United playing Los Angeles Galaxy as part of the Beckham circus.
Freddie Shepherd looks to have surprisingly put the kybosh on a money spinning summer, instead looking to actually prepare a football team:
'The manager wasn't keen on any of these but wanted to take his first-team squad away to a training camp in Northern Europe, and that's what we'll be doing. Certainly, considering the injuries we've had this season, the better we prepare for next season the more chance we have of avoiding all this.'
While there will be no long-haul trip, the club will still be involved in a couple of glamour friendlies before the start of next season, with two teams who have played Champions' League football in the current campaign coming to St James' Park. And we could yet take part in a prestigious competition a lot closer to home on the Continent. In addition, two local League sides will be invited to play at St James' Park, and last season's highly-successful open day will be repeated. United will not finalise their pre-season plans until they find out whether or not they are going to be involved in the InterToto Cup again in the middle of July.