Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho confirms Manchester United will return to Northern Ireland tournament SuperCupNI

Jose's boys set to follow in footsteps of Beckham again

By Jim Gracey

Manchester United are making a return to the SuperCupNI where it all began for their golden generation in the Milk Cup era.

Jose Mourinho, who supported the tournament as Chelsea boss, last night confirmed to organisers that he would be sending a junior team to the July tournament, after a two-year absence by United sides.

Under Luis van Gaal, United disappointed the organisers and thousands of Reds fans here with a last-minute withdrawal from the cup in 2015, ending a 25-year association that produced stars of the calibre of Beckham, Giggs, Scholes and the Neville brothers.

But last night tournament chairman Victor Leonard said he was extremely happy to see the Old Trafford favourites on their way back.

"Despite the disappointment two years ago we still maintained a good working relationship with United and respected their decision which, while difficult for us, was taken because of certain training requirements for the club's reserves at that time," he said.

"Manchester United are a huge draw at SuperCupNI and we have been able to enjoy enormous success over the years because of their much valued and unwavering support."

Former boss Sir Alex Ferguson, also a strong supporter of the tournament, frequently acknowledged Northern Ireland’s north coast as the launch pad for his famed Class of 92 Milk Cup winners who went on to land the historic 1999 treble for the Reds. 

Those links left organisers quietly confident that United would be back at the highly acclaimed international youth competition with today’s announcement likely to be followed by news of further United involvement.

The presence of the famous red shirts will not only boost crowds around the north coast venues. They could also persuade a headline sponsor to step forward and fill the gap left by Dale Farm last year.

United, six times Premier section title winners, will contest the Junior competition, one of six English clubs involved. Middlesbrough, Sheffield United, Plymouth Argyle, Swindon Town and Southampton join Rangers and six Ulster County teams in the mix.

Organisers are hoping to be able to confirm further exciting news involving Manchester United soon.

The tournament begins in Coleraine on Sunday, July 23, with a traditional welcome ceremony at the Showgrounds after competing teams have paraded through the town centre.

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