During the latter stages of last season, there were rumors that United might partake in a tour of the Middle East and Asia during the missing midweek Champions League fixtures that otherwise would've filled the schedule and coffers. It was funny enough to mention in passing, but too outlandish to be taken seriously. But hey, it actually might happen now!
As the Guardian reports, United are looking at their barren calendar—with their stunning/hilarious failure in the League Cup, they no longer have any non-Premier League midweek obligations for the rest of the season—and seeing dollar signs. The funniest part is how the club is trying to sell this as anything other than a naked cash grab:
Going overseas – the Middle East would be the most likely destination – would allow United to escape the English winter for a few days and the addition of Radamel Falcao and Ángel di María have made the club even more likely to attract lucrative contracts for friendlies.
"Ah yes, the Qatari sun will do the lads loads of good, and wouldn't you know it, Sheik So-And-So just so happens to be a big Di María fan! What a coincidence!" Pitting the Red Devils and their stars against a random assortment of local all-star teams would be the saddest spectacle imaginable, even worse than seeing a chastened Luis Suárez whip up on Indonesian children, but embarrassing money is still money.
Escaping winter isn't the only rationalization United's brass has managed to conjure. There's also all the chemistry boost:
"[Midweek friendly's are] something we continue to look at, as always making sure that the preparations we do on the pitch come first," United's managing director, Richard Arnold, said. "For many of our [pre-season] international tours, there is a plan to ensure we get that team building that goes together with getting the team all together in one place. That's something that's being looked at with regards to the future with Louis [van Gaal]."
And how did van Gaal—the man tasked with proving the Moyes era was but a blip on an otherwise spotless resume by winning the league—view that cumbersome and exhausting preseason? He wasn't a big fan. Still, Arnold insists the skipper is on-board:
"I can only speak positively of my experience with the manager in terms of his understanding of what's required to get a first-class team onto the pitch and also what's required for running a club of our magnitude," Arnold said.
Ah, he finally gets to the reality of the situation. For a team that buys Falcao, Di María, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, etc., and still doesn't look equipped to make a real title run, there needs to be cash flowing in the other direction, too. A first-class team requires a bank that can float those first-class tickets, and if van Gaal can't bring in the respectable dollars through Champions League qualification, the embarrassing money will have to do.