Louis Van Gaal`s International Champions` Cup of the United States of America

26/07/2016 12:55

Louis Van Gaal`s International Champions` Cup of the United States of America

The F.A. Charity Shield was re-Christened the Community Shield in 2002, because of attempts by the Charity Commission to brand the English Football Association `racketeers`. Consequently, the Shield was renamed by the F.A., in a move away from what had been its customary single donation to a selected charity - or charities - and on to community endowment projects. Competed for since 1908, when Sandy Turnbull scored 25 goals as Manchester United became Football League champions for the first time in their history, which had begun with their founding as Newton Heath, `The Heathens`, in 1878, the English Shield was won against the London champions of the Southern Football League, Queens Park Rangers, 4-0, with a `hat trick` (3) from centre forward, Jimmy Turnbull (no relation), and a single goal from left winger, George Wall, after a 1-1 draw and a replay, which left J. Turnbull with four (4) goals.

 The 2016 contest was scheduled to take place between Manchester United, as F.A. Cup winners under the stewardship of Dutchman Louis Van Gaal, but under the new management of Portugal`s Jose Mourinho, and Leicester City, league champions. After 1908 United won the Shield on another 19 subsequent occasions, the last being 2013 when former Everton manager, David Moyes, successor to Sir Alex Ferguson, two times European Cup winning manager with United (1999, 2008), oversaw the team that had won Ferguson the last of his 13 championships (2012-13), before he retired due to ill health, beat Wigan Athletic, 2-0, with goals in the 6th and 59th minute from Dutch centre forward, Robin Van Persie, brought by Sir Alex from Arsenal for £24 million to give more firepower to the attack. Persie had scored 26 league goals that term as United won the title with 89 points to Manchester City`s 78 and so qualify for the Charity Shield game against F.A. Cup winners, Wigan.

 The 2013 Shield contest was Moyes` first game in charge, and the only trophy he won before being replaced by Dutchman, Van Gaal, at the start of the 2014-15 season. Traditionally, the contest for the Shield occurs between the winners of the English championship and the F.A. Cup, apart from its inaugural seasons up to 1913, when it was contested between the Football League champions and the Southern Football League champions, and after 1913 it became a contest between professionals and amateurs. The subsequent outbreak of the First World War (1914-18) heralded further change, and the competition came to be between the league champions and the winners of the second division title, until 1921, when the league champions versus the F.A. Cup winners format was finally established. Occasionally, because of special occasions, such as the league and cup double being performed, for example, by Spurs (1961), Arsenal (1971), and United in 1994, `96 and `99, the contest was by invitation, or determined by who finished as runner up in the cup or league to the F.A. Cup and league championship `double winner`, and who were willing to compete of course.

 The distaste with which this friendly has been treated by journalists and clubs alike is a throwback to the days when the European Cup was perceived as a competition of secondary importance to English teams concerned primarily with winning the championship at home. Only after Manchester United entered as English league champions in 1957 did the European Cup begin to establish itself as a predominant competition to English eyes, and even after Manchester United`s winning of the European Cup in 1968, 4-1, against Benfica at England`s national Wembley stadium, London, the Intercontinental Cup Final with the Champions of South America, by virtue of Estudiantes of Argentina winning the Copa Libertadores de América, that is, `freedom`s cup`, was perceived as something equivalent to the generally supposed non-event taking place pre-season at Wembley; the Charity Shield between the league champions and the cup winners.

 Of course the confidence trick was that Manchester United, with 20, have won the Shield on more occasions than any other club (Liverpool, 15), which is why the other clubs despise it as an irrelevance. They can`t compete. Consequently, when United under the managership of five times league winner, Matt Busby, won the European Cup, 4-1 (a.e.t), with goals from Irish wing genius, George Best (92), a header from teenage centre forward Brian Kidd (94), who was in the side for injured Scots` goalscoring sensation, `king` Denis Law, and Bobby Charlton (99), it was another triumph despised by others. Benfica`s right midfielder, Jaime Graça, had previously equalized England`s deep-lying centre forward Bobby Charlton`s rare headed 53rd minute opener to force extra time at 1-1, and although the subsequent winning of the European Cup gave United entry into the Intercontinental Cup, envy led the media to depict the contest for that trophy as an inconsequential event on a par with the English Shield competition.

 Against Estudiantes of Argentina, winners of the South American championship, that is, the Copa Libertadores de América, Manchester United lost on aggregate 1-2, after losing 0-1 in Buenos Aires to a headed 27th minute goal by forward, Marcus Conigliaro, and drawing 1-1 at Old Trafford, Manchester, after a crowd silencing 6th minute opener from winger, Juan Ramón Verón, father of Juan `Seba` Sebastián Verón, who`d win a title with Ferguson`s United as a midfielder in 2002-3, and despite a `last gasp`, which produced a 90th minute strike from Scots` right winger, bought by newly knighted Sir Matt Busby for £117, 000 that summer from Burnley, Willie Morgan. Though United won the European Cup in 1999 after beating Bayern Munich, 1-2, with more trademark `last gasp` goals from substitute strikers (67th and 81st minutes), Teddy Sheringham (91) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (93), and which qualified the team for the Intercontinental Cup Final against Palmeiras of Sao Paolo, Brazil, that they won, 1-0, after a 35th minute goal at the right near post touched in by captain Roy Keane from a left wing cross by Ryan Giggs, the IC Final was perceived by the newspapers and the media as an irrelevant inconsequentiality, and European Cup winners, Liverpool, even refused to compete against Boca Juniors of Argentina in 1977 and 1978.

 Manchester United`s victory over Chelsea in the 2008 European Cup Final at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, on penalties, when the game ended, 1-1, and extra time was needed to decide the contest, followed upon a 45th minute equalizing goal from Chelsea midfielder, Frank Lampard, after a 26th minute headed goal from a left footed cross out on the right wing by right back Brown onto the head of United`s powerfully skilful Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, and which left Ryan Giggs to slot home a victory penalty after Chelsea centre back, John Terry, fell on his arse in the rain and missed. That Giggs strike put United through to the final series of matches in the inaugural World Club Championship that had replaced the IC Final.

 Derided again by the mass media and the newspapers as a competition of inconsequentiality, perhaps because Manchester United had agreed to try and win it, the team entered the lists at the semi-final stage, and beat Japan`s Gamba Osaka, who`d qualified by winning the Asian Federation Cup (AFC) over two legs against Australia`s Adelaide United, 5-0. After a 28th minute headed opening goal from Serbian centre back, Nemanja Vidić, another headed goal from right wing, Cristiano Ronaldo, from a similar corner on the right taken by Ryan Giggs on 46 minutes, brought the game to the half way mark. Gamba Osaka forward, Masato Yamazaki, replied with a strike from inside the area in the 74th minute but a minute later England centre forward, Wayne Rooney, chested on a cross from the right, which took him into the left of the `keeper`s area, where a left footed strike, low, found the right of the net, 3-1. Sometime Scots` midfield captain, Darren Fletcher then scored with a header from a cross by French left back, Patrice Evra in the 78th minute, and a similar strike from Rooney in almost the same position as his first goal of the game, found the right of the net through an outside of the right boot flick on in the 79th minute.

 That gave United a 5-1 lead, and despite Gamba Osaka launching something of a late comeback with Gamba Osaka`s creative midfielder, Yasuhito Endō, converting an 85th minute penalty after United right back and captain, Gary Neville, was adjudged to have prevented a cross from the left reaching the Japanese forwards by handling the ball, and which was followed by a further last gasp 91st minute strike from defensive midfielder, Hideo Hashimoto, United held on for a win, 5-3. Having qualified for the World Club Cup Final with their semi-final victory over Japan`s Gamba Osaka, Manchester United`s `Red Devils`, as they`d come to be known since their days as Newton Heath`s `Heathens`, beat LDU Quito of Ecuador with a strike from the 2008 competition`s top goalscorer, England`s Wayne Rooney, who drilled the ball home from where he`d apparently been standing conserving energy on the edge of the keeper`s area in the 73rd minute, just waiting for the ball to come to him, because United had been reduced to 10 players with the 49th minute sending off of Serbian centre back, Nemanja Vidic, and so the players left on the field had to do the work of 11. Applying his strategic knowledge of the game to occupy the most dangerous space, rather than risk exhaustion by ball chasing, and losing ground in the event of a counter attack by LDU Quito, Rooney had simply awaited a chance falling to his expertise in positional play.

 Manchester United`s 21st century task was to overcome the parochialism at home, which had sought to establish the league championship as being of more consequence than the European Cup before United`s entrance into the contest as 1956-7 English champions, and the subsequent emotion at the club`s loss in the snow of the Munich air crash. Returning from a 3-3 draw in Yugoslavia against Red Star Belgrade, after two goals from Bobby Charlton and another from centre forward, Dennis Viollet, had put them through to a semi-final with A.C. Milan, they lost 2-5, and 0-4 at the San Siro stadium, despite a brave, 2-1, home victory at `the theatre of dreams` stadium, Old Trafford, with goals from Dennis Viollet and inside forward, Ernie Taylor, who`d been bought from Aston Villa by Busby in an attempt to replace the heart of the team that died.

 On February 6, 1958, seven players lost their lives as the plane carrying the team back from Belgrade crashed on take off from Munich airport, while others suffered career threatening injuries. Those who died were England left back, and captain, Roger Byrne, and his understudy, right back, Geoff Bent, England midfielders, Eddie Colman, and the player who`d been hailed as the `giant` of the England team for the forthcoming World Cup, that is, central midfield striker, Duncan Edwards, and England centre back, Mark Jones, England left winger, David Pegg, England centre forward, Tommy Taylor, and mercurial Irish forward, Liam `Billy` Whelan. Irish inside forward and sometime centre back, Jackie Blanchflower, and England winger, Johnny Berry, were so badly injured they never played again, and Matt Busby had to rebuild a team from the remains of the playing staff after the disaster before ultimately triumphing, 4-1, against Benfica at London`s national Wembley stadium to finally win the European Cup in 1968. Busby`s team had been so young it`d been labeled `The Busby Babes` but, after the tragedy, he gave his rebuilt squad the title `Red Devils`, and the club crest thereafter featured a devil with a pitchfork. It was an indication that Busby would prepare his future teams to be devilishly difficult to prevent from achieving that success which had been snatched away by the enemy, death, on the snow and ice of Munich`s airport runway.

 Parochialism at home, which had sought to establish the league championship as being of more consequence than the European Cup, derided the Charity Shield as a competition of at least as little consequence as the Intercontinental Cup. What the English never appeared to understand was that winning the league and the F.A. Cup was a qualifying round, which the South Americans always had understood with respect to qualifying for the Intercontinental Cup, and later the World Club Cup, by winning the Copa de Libertadores. In England United`s attempts to win were handicapped by press` preconceptions influencing public opinion, and a lack lustre team failed to win in 1968 against Argentina`s Estudiantes, 1-2, in the Final of the Intercontinental Cup, largely due to a dismissive media, before overcoming envious disparagement of the trophy`s value to eventually win the competition in 1999, 1-0, against Palmeiras of Sao Paolo, Brazil. When the inaugural World Club Cup was won against LDU Quito in 2008, the media and newspapers in England were forced to accept that Manchester United were world champions, and reluctantly celebrated the event. However, despite the Glazers of the United States of America becoming the owners of the club, the first trophy won by the team under the stewardship of Louis Van Gaal, the International Champions Cup of the USA, was once again represented in the mass media as silverware without significance.

 The International Champions Cup was dismissed as insignificant, because Manchester United had virtually developed and invented the International Champions Cup in the USA, China and Australia, with their repeated touring in friendlies against local teams during the summer breaks between seasons. England, however, still wasn`t able to perceive that the ICC by invitation tournament still required teams to qualify. The vision of a group system comprising Africa, Oceania, America and Eurasia, didn`t strike the English as legitimately competitive. Despite `team USA` reaching the last 16 of the World Cup in 2014, after finishing second with four points in group G to eventual Final winners Germany (7), 1-0, against Argentina with a goal from Mario Götze (a.e.t. 113th minute), while England were bottom and ignominiously unqualified in group D, with but a single point after defeats, 1-2, to Italy and Uruguay, 1-2, and a draw against group D winners, Costa Rica, who finished top with 7 points. For the envious, Manchester United are, like the USA, an inferior team, because they win trophies; for example, the English Shield. As a competition for soccer achievers, Manchester United`s win in the 2014 International Champions Cup was envied by the unsuccessful English almost as much as the 2014 German World Cup win, and so the triumph was met with a media and press display of principled superiority over the competition, and the competitors, to belittle the achievement of the winner even before the result of the Final, 3-1, against Liverpool was known.

 Despite group winning victories over Italy`s Roma, 3-2, and Internazionale of Milan (0-0 a.e.t., and 5-3 on penalties), and Spain`s Real Madrid, 3-1, before defeating England`s Liverpool, 3-1, in the Final, with goals from England centre forward, Wayne Rooney, and Spain`s right sided midfielder, Juan Mata, and England winger, Jessie Lingard, the International Champions Cup of the United States of America received the same disparaging envious response from the media as United`s successes in the English Shield, successive versions of the World Club Cup, and the International Champions Cup, which effectively is a world league championship, rather than a knockout trophy. Mata and Lingard were the goalscorers for United and Van Gaal in the team`s `historic` 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace in the F.A. Cup Final of 2016, after qualifying by beating Sheffield United in the 3rd round, 1-0, Derby (4th), 3-1 away, Shrewsbury (5th), 3-0 away, West Ham in a 6th round replay, 2-1 away at Upton Park, after a 1-1 result at Old Trafford, and Everton, 2-1, in the semi-final. The route to the F.A. Cup Final win over Crystal Palace, with goals from Mata and Lingard, 2-1, was easier than the path to winning the ICC against Liverpool, 3-1, although it did give the club a deserved record 12 wins in the F.A. Cup, and was therefore duly celebrated by the media as another great triumph for the English game. However, it`s unlikely that the players of Real Madrid or Internazionale of Milan would have heard of Shrewsbury, while Mata and Lingard, who scored against Liverpool to win a world trophy, 3-1, that is, the International Champions Cup (ICC) in the USA, were presented by the English press as `second string` players taking part in a reserve side `practice session` in which the hurdles to be overcome, that is, Roma (3 times Italian champions), Inter Milan (3 times European Cup winners), Real Madrid (11 times European Cup winners) and Liverpool (5 times European Cup winners), weren`t there to compete and win a senior club trophy, but to be the intercontinental equivalent of the Central League, which United and Liverpool`s reserve teams compete to win amongst the other local clubs, like Shrewsbury (2008-09 and 2012-13 winners), in the English county of Lancashire.

 Even the Manchester club`s own list of honours doesn`t include the 2014 International Champions Cup of the USA Final victory and trophy as worthy of being listed, because the English have taught United to disparage their own successes. If Manchester United don`t develop a thicker skin, even than the armor they`ve successfully forged to deal with English mockery of the team`s effort, it`ll be others that win the trophies, and United will have succumbed to the envious hate directed against the team, although for decades the fans have tried to drill the players in the correct response to hatred for the club: `Everybody hates us, and we don`t care!` Manchester United are hated for being good, not for being hateful, which is why the supporters want to see due respect for Van Gaal`s successful stint as manager, and the Glazers` achievement in winning the International Champions Cup (ICC) of the United States of America for England.