Manchester United Hired "A Fleet Of Private Jets" To Shuttle Its Players Back From International CompetitionsSToday in operating costs: because soccer's international competition schedule—as of late, World Cup qualifiers—interferes with the English Premier League's late-season schedule, one English Premier League team you may have heard of hired a bunch of private jets to make sure its players would be back on time. Guess where that team is in the standings! (First, by a lot.)

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed how Manchester United have hired a fleet of private jets to ensure their players away on international duty are back in time for this weekend's action.

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"Freshness is the name of the game now as we come towards the end of the season and the intensity of vital games coming in quick succession," Ferguson remarked in United's most recent match programme. "My role becomes even more important in selecting the right teams, with freshness the operative quality. It's not necessarily putting out your best team, it's picking the freshest.

"This will be a real problem when the players come back at the end of the international break after playing two games involving long flights, particularly with Chicharito in Mexico [to play USA] and Shinji Kagawa with Japan [who have a World Cup qualifier in Jordan on Tuesday].

"In fact, we're making arrangements for some players to fly home by privately hired jet after their matches, to make sure they get home as quickly and smoothly as possible.

"Tiredness is a great leveller but we will do our utmost to make sure we field the freshest possible teams. Private planes are going to cost the club an awful lot of money, but it is something we feel we have to do.

Ferguson went on to say that the players who weren't playing internationally would be the focus of Manchester United's attack this weekend against Sunderland and Chelsea, so the players being flown back on private jets are, despite the extraordinary measures taken to maintain their freshness ("the operative quality"), a relatively small factor. Nice to see that, in an era of waning Yankee extravagance, there are still franchises throwing jaw-dropping sums of money around because, as Ferguson describes Manchester United's concern, "it is something we feel we have to do."

It worked, sort of: United beat Sunderland this morning when Sunderland's Titus Bramble clipped a Robin Van Persie shot for an own goal, the only score of the match. One of the players Sir Alex Ferguson flew home, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, didn't play.

Manchester United Hire Private Jets To Fly Players Home For Crunch Weekend [Guardian]