Belfast Telegraph

Reflecting on Manchester United's glory days of 2003

By John Laverty

Ah, the summer of 2003. Remember how hot it was? Apparently Europe hadn't seen temperatures like it in 500 years.

Manchester United were looking pretty hot too. During their pre-season tour of the United States, Sir Alex Ferguson's men swept aside Barcelona, Juventus, Celtic and a big-name combo called Club America.

Moreover, the star of that particular tour was Juan Sebastian Veron, who'd previously had difficulties settling into the Red Devils set-up.

"Jaw-droppingly brilliant" was one drooling hack's description of the Argentinian playmaker who looked, and played, like someone who had cost £28.1m two years earlier.

That other lot in red and white, meanwhile, were struggling. 'Highlights' of Arsenal's pre-season activity included losing to Peterborough and drawing with Celtic and Barnet.

Arsene Wenger's men couldn't even get the better of the near-useless Austrian part-timers SC Ritzing.

And how the Mancs gloated. Another season of lording it over the Gooners beckoned.

Nine months later, Arsenal had changed their name to The Invincibles, having gone through the entire Premier League campaign as unbeaten, worthy champions.

United, on the other had, lost nine PL games and limped home third.

Oh, and Veron was offloaded to Chelsea at a huge loss – and replaced by, ahem, Kleberson – just after that 'triumphant' tour of America.

But it's good to know that, these days, no-one at United is allowing themselves to be misled by pre-season results...

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