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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 14:13 GMT
Man Utd in Brazil - a waste of time?




Manchester United, the cream of European football, have flopped spectacularly in the World Club Championships in Brazil.

A disappointing draw against Necaxa, including the sending off of David Beckham, has been followed by a 3-1 defeat by Rio side Vasco da Gama in the Maracana cauldron.

This was the tournament United manager Sir Alex Ferguson did not want to enter. But the club sacrificed the FA Cup to take part and supposedly boost England's 2006 World Cup bid.

So was this just a tournament too far in unfamiliar, tropical conditions? Did they fail in their role as ambassadors for Engish football?

Or has commercial gain - and some painful lessons on the pitch - made it a worthwhile exercise?


Your Reaction

How on earth can Ferguson still claim that Man Utd are better than any other team in the tournament? What an arrogant idiot!
Lee Akehurst, England

Personally I have enjoyed the football on display in this competition by all the teams involved, regardless of one or 5 sending offs. I wonder if the Brazilian press would pose the same arguments towards their teams if the next tournament takes place in high winds, driving rain, sleet and freezing conditions? It's been a great, enjoyable experience.
John Evans, Wales, UK

What pulls my chain is people from other countries who have been commenting on Man Utd's performance. How can a Mexican or Canadian comment on a league they can only understand through media representation.
Matt, UK

It was good for one thing - it will prepare the Man Utd fans for the rest of the season! Hope you enjoy an empty trophy room next season!
James Morrison, UK

I think that political governance has forced the country's greatest club into a corner. The gutter tabloids will be on their backs as soon as they touch down at Manchester. Obviously the team is representing the country and on reflection have not represented themselves well. However, the game of football is never simple these days and is more increasingly a matter decided by government and the media.
Matt Pattison, England

Although Man United failed in Brazil the decision to play was right. Football is now a global game and much bigger than our domestic competitions such as the FA cup. We will only improve our game if we continue to play sides from wider, more diverse cultures. It is obvious that players such as Cole and Yorke are totally out classed when playing sides in Europe and South America. They will only improve if they continue to play these sides.
Steve Ghosley, UK



Anyone who calls themselves English yet is happy to see England's best lose in the world arena should be ashamed of themselves.
Leon Oxley, English, US resident
I read all this in the news about the rise of English nationalism and pride on the rise. I don't see too much of it from these Man U bashers on this forum. Arsenal, Chelsea (how many English play for Chelsea?) or any other "London Darling" team would've been given a big "Well done, Welcome Home" party. Anyone who calls themselves English and proud, yet happy to see England's best lose in the world arena are nothing more than hypocrites and should be ashamed of themselves.
Leon Oxley, English, US resident

Man U must wish they stayed in the FA Cup. They went into the world championship thinking they would simply walk over the other teams and win without putting in any effort. Alex Ferguson is far too arrogant. There are lots of Scots who can't stand him. He still says they are the best team in the tournament yet they only struggled for a draw against a bunch of Mexicans.
Craig, Scotland

Manchester United's decision to take part in the World Club championships is the correct one. British clubs originally shunned the European cup and now it is the most prestigious club competition in the World. People should lay off United and just be proud that Britain have a club representing them in the tournament. Also, if United help bring the 2006 World cup to these shores, the whole Brazilian experience will have been a success, whether or not they progress in the competition.
P.Alexander, Wales

In 3hrs of over-rated, over hyped and over televised football Manchester Utd, The FA and the Government successfully managed to ruin the greatest club knock-out tournament in the world. Would anybody be surprised if, upon there return, United were allowed back into the FA Cup? United are allowed to much freedom to roam, you can guarantee that if the likes of Preston or Norwich DEMANDED to be excluded from the FA Cup the FA would have a different view than the one taken.
Andrew Swindells, Liverpool, England

NECAXA! NECAXA! NECAXA!
David, USA



Advice to all millionaire European clubs: Stop talking, start playing.
Grasiela, Brazil
Advice to all millionaire European clubs: Stop talking, start playing. The difference between South American and European football is that south Americans play for love and Europeans play for MONEY! Yeah, we have millionaire players (you know them...) but there are many others as talented as them playing in the Brazilian teams. Man U came to Brazil thinking that it would be piece of cake... that they were invincible... yeah right... If Brazil's national team is not invincible why would they be!?
Grasiela, Brazil

Manchester Utd - your the greatest team in the world. Don't make me laugh. It's amazing that people thought Man U could actually win this competition. If you're the best team in the world, why is it that your players can't control the ball when it comes to them? The Vasco players made the ball stick to their feet the first time. And, there was no way the Man U defence could stop Romario or Edmundo - superior talent. Dwight Yorke should be flogged for missing two sitters, even if your having a bad season, at £12.6m you should hit the target when your team needs it, all big players do it. Andy Cole & Ted Sheringham should have started they could make a great striker/provider duo, it's obvious. Man U are far from being the best team in the world.
Jr. Lee Beckford, USA / UK

I think that Man U have just crashed back down to Earth. This has been a nightmare for them but they are trying to put a brave face on it. With the display of players in Vasco Da Gama and other teams Man U really did not stand a chance against the Brazilians.
Bismillah Choudhry, UK

What has come through loud & clear is that Man. Utd. are a team with a few key players: if one (or more) of these players is not playing, or is not playing well, the whole team falls apart, witness Roy Keane, David Beckham, Gary Neville. To be considered a great team, there has to be more than eleven players in the equation. Until Man Utd. have a complete squad that can compete with the best, they can never be considered "the best" themselves. It is also high time that Sir Alex comes clean, and allocates blame where blame is clearly due, i.e. David Beckham's repeated misdemeanours should be punished.
Nick, Greece

The English have to put aside their standoffishness! The world has changed and only the British seem not to have noticed it. Man U FC was forced to come here out of publicity for the 2006 World Cup English bid. Then they painfully discovered that they were not as good as they thought they were. Manchester United flopped in the pitch as did England's public relations. Britons should be more humble, at least when playing football with the masters of the game, the Brazilians. Who cares for Manchester U. vs Arsenal? The Britons only. On the other hand a Manchester U. vs R. Madrid or vs Corinthians final would be seen by the whole world. There is a lot of intelligent life and wonderful football beyond the English Channel. Do wake up!
Luis Orge, Brazil

I have carefully read every single letter in this article. Contrary to what you'd expect, there is no criticism at all of the player whose two unforced errors led to United's loss - only one oblique reference about the team's defence being poor. Who cares if Man Utd. won or lost? With the support of thoughtful, devoted and forgiving fans like these, the club's overall success is assured.
Simon Cameron, UK

Look at it this way, before they went they had an easy victory over a West Ham team recovering from a difficult FA cup match. Three points. They go into the sunshine play two games (the third will be subs, mostly) Their darling only plays one game! And then back to Flu ridden England, gripped by winter and the game is hard. Who do you think is better rested for the Arsenal game? Man-U or Arsenal? And how many games does Man-U not have to play - 6 or 7. It works well for them doesn't it?
Michael J Sullivan, Canada

United needed to test their skills against the cream of world football, not just the Europeans and it proved that although they may be champions both here and in Europe there is still a long way for them to go before they are truly world class.
Glenn King, Switzerland

MUFC had the opportunity to do not just England proud but all of their supporters worldwide. It is OK for them not to win every event they participate in just as long as they deliver their best. So what if their best is always not good enough for the rest of the world. I still say 'nice try' guys hopefully next time we win it.
Alan Johnson, South Africa

One minute the UK press are telling us that nobody cares about the World Club Championships, the next they're claiming that Man U have let down the nation by having a couple of bad games.... Man U were really in a no win situation.
Sarah, UK

I see Sir Alex now says it wasn't a complete waste of time because the players have recharged their batteries (and topped up their suntans). I suppose the FA will allow Leeds and Arsenal a two week break in Tenerife in February as well...? What a farce the whole thing was and shame on the BBC for plugging it so shamelessly and even trying defend Beckham's kung fu effort.
David, Belgium

I am really glad that Man U didn't win the cup this year, everyone expected nothing less from them and if they had of won the cup this time the cup would have been worthless, everyone underrated all the other teams and I think that next time any teams like Man U, Arsenal or Chelsea get an invite they would snap up the chance because in my eyes Man U losing out this year, all the other teams in the world will have more interest in years to come!
N. Creighton, Netherlands

Man Utd failed to do their homework and as a result let lots of people down, particularly the non partisan Utd supporters, that includes many Brazilians. On the Beckham affair, I think Man Utd's directors should have the guts to sack him immediately, before he brings the whole English, indeed British Football scene into further disgrace.
Derek Hammond, Brazil

If Arsenal had gone over there and lost would everyone have slammed them so much, I doubt it. Man Utd can't be expected to win every match no one can, I think people should go a little easier on them.
Roy Marler, England

Like Pele said: "Manchester United will dominate the world football for the years to come. They will not win everything in sight, as this is humanly impossible, but they will be the dominant world team." You know, he is right. Can you say that the few who managed to beat Brazil in 1970 were better? Or the few who manage to beat Italy in 1982? Or the even fewer who manage to beat Ajax from 1970 to 1972? Go learn some history! It helps!
Ulysses Christodoulou, USA

At last we witness Manchester United in their true colours - best club side in the world, I think not ! Hopefully the FA will now make them re-qualify for the FA Cup, a couple of first round ties at non-league opposition should bring them back to earth.
Leigh, England

It is not a waste of time. They have to enter competitions like this so that they can become even better as the English opposition they face week in week out is not good enough to challenge them.
Damien, England

The result is poetic justice. Unfortunately, MU have forgotten that this thing called football is a beautiful game primarily and an opportunity to make money secondarily.
GLS, UK

I am not sure where the "arrogance" attack came from I mean the tournament really isn't as important as the English league or FA cup to Man U. We should congratulate the Brazilian & Mexican sides which performed so well and just enjoy the rest of the tournament.
The Brazilian press has been even more Xenophobic than the British press with the usual paranoia about English "arrogance", I am very happy Man U is out early so the English League wont be held up too badly at the end of the season, I suspect many Man U players are happy to get the hell out of there as well.
Toby Dorn, USA

I don't see how attending a competition can be termed a "waste of time" just because of poor performance.... that is always a possibility to be considered, particularly when playing in a foreign environment with a hostile home crowd and unfavourable weather conditions
Aldo, Singapore

It amazes me that people are always trying to bring things greater than themselves down. Comments like they were lucky to win so many titles are ludicrous. Luck just doesn't hold for an entire season (Or more). They went¿they tried...they lost. Don't make it a national English disgrace. I guess it's normal for people to attack greatness and Man U is a great side.
Kevin Hogg, Canada

Soccer in the UK has become a business that concentrates on big money for the better players, and does nothing to advance their skills. British soccer needs to do some soul searching, and invest the fortune they rake in on training, not salaries!
Terri, Singapore

Manchester United is a superb team. On the second half the Brazilians have been clearly defeated. The red devils have showed power and failed to mark several times. It has been a pleasure to see the force and cohesion of the men of Manchester.
Fernandes Gentil, Brazil

I am bitterly disappointed. Although a staunch Liverpool supporter and therefore a nominal supporter of Manchester united I think this is a bad day for English Soccer. A good showing by Manchester United (let's face it, the most well known club in the world) would have been a great boost for the 2006 world cup.
Peter Chadwick, USA

Oh, Oh, Oh how predictable. Man U are lucky, Man U are over-rated. Lucky for 10 years, a pretty good lucky streak. And the best of all from the Scousers - Liverpool were the best team ever. It's so long ago since Liverpool were a meaningful force in British Football that most of the young football supporters won't even have been born. And if Man U are overrated then what does that make the rest of the Premiership who have been trying to get close to them for the last decade. Pathetic!
Phil Grice, UK

Man Utd can't win all the time.
Eddie, Brooklyn USA

I think Man United is still one of the best team in the world. Over confidence cost them dearly the last two games. At this level of soccer you have to take everybody seriously. Agreed some of the teams in the tournament are not as high profile as man U, but people play for pride and prestige more than anything else.
I'm not a Man U fan. And to me as they were last year they were also very lucky. Many teams underestimated them last year. It will be very interesting to see how they finish outside of the premier league this year.
Not to rub it in...but Man U fans go ga ga over Beckham. I think he's good, but you have to prove it at the highest level to be considered the best player in that position which is to play for England and succeed in giving the same kind of contribution he gives Man U. I don't think he has done that so far. Until he does it he has no bragging rights.
SM, US/UK

Wasn't all this to help England's World Cup campaign? On that basis it was a disaster. Next time send the Dagenham Girl Pipers.
Mac, Scotalnd

It's not a waste of time. At least Man Utd tried to win the cup. They didn't just give up half way through it. If that is considered as a waste of time, there shouldn't even be a World Club Cup.
Auburn, Spore

A big flop! Serves them right for their arrogance and greed. Will the FA be giving Man Utd their usual allocation of FA Cup final tickets this year? I hope not!
Peter Andrew, Canada

I do not agree with Dave Starkey that this was "a mickey mouse competition". These teams were the best of Asia, Americas, Africa, Europe and Pacific. If Man U failed they have disgraced European Football. A German or French side would have done better. English football is predominated by politics and glamour. At the end of the day, its goals that count!!!
Bill Powers, Tanzania

The competition is excellent and I hope it survives. For players like Yorke, it might be the biggest stage he will ever play on. If the Europeans had the same home advatage, you can guarantee that the South Americans would be wondering what happened to their best performers. Get off their backs, for God's sake!
Anon, UK

Man Utd had nothing to lose - they're already in the Champions League next season. They, along with the FA, were willing to sacrifice the global importance of the English Cup to embark on a flawed lobby for the 2006 bid. Yeah, right £££££££££!
Joe Hoyle, UK

The tournament is a great idea If all the champions of every country in the world were there next time, then you are the greatest club if you win It just shows that English football has a long way to go on a skill level. The conditions aren't to blame, the players are fit enough to cope with the conditions If a Brazilian side came over here well... Manchester United have been brought back to ground by one of the greatest sides in the world if not Romario. It will do them good if not make them better next time.
Richard Cudlip, England

I was delighted to see Manchester United go out of the tournament at the first opportunity. It's just what they deserve for the contempt they show towards the English game. I just hope they go out of the Champions League too.
Neil Tonks, UK

Alex Ferguson will learn from this and they'll be better for it. David Beckham raised his game and attitude the last time he made a prat of himself. I think he's learnt another hard lesson.
Stephen Roberts, UK

Not a waste of time at all. So Utd are out, who cares? They're not machines with an automatic right to win. I'm enjoying the tournament as a whole, it's good to see teams we wouldn't normally see playing. I think for an inaugural tournament it's been good for all concerned and I hope it becomes a regular event with more clubs allowed to participate.
Peter Wilson, UK

It's only one loss, they've lost before and, no doubt, will lose again, that's life. What I cannot understand, however, is that such a professional organisation, on a mission to further the aims of England 2006, could have been such a PR disaster. Quite frankly, Ferguson should learn a little civility and humility, basically, when to wind his neck in!
Sarah, Hong Kong

That was terrible! MU must not waste time on tournament if they play there so badly! Really, they should better take a part in FA Cup instead of wasting time
Solver, Latvia

Manchester United are over-rated only by those who cannot conceive of them making mistakes, having a bad day or, horror of horrors, losing a game.
David Mandel, Thailand

They have all learnt not to underestimate any opponent in the future.
Mike Laverty, Canada

Proof yet again, that as soon as Man U have to compete on level terms without the backing of SkyTV backed refereeing then they suddenly become VERY ordinary. They are good.... but not THAT good.
Andy Charter, UK

So who exactly has been doing the overrating? It appears that generally they get underrated. How do you dominate the Premiership, ever since it was established, win two doubles and a treble and the majority of people (particularly here) attribute it all to luck? If they had won the tournament, I guess that would have just been luck in a "Mickey Mouse Competition"!!
Dave Starkey, United Kingdom

In order to save face, an English Team HAD to appear at these championships so that the English press can still cling onto this Charlton et al era of "English Glory". As an Englishman abroad, I think that Man Utd should have gone to play in Brazil because who else have we got to chear about abroad? The national team is a disgrace.
Paul, Hong Kong

Not only should this benefit Man Utd but should be helpful to other clubs. The opposition in Rio is tops and can only benefit a team for the future. The players have tried but can learn for the future. Let not an action by one brat who cannot mature mar the episode.
Dr H Bhogal, UK

Well, they say you learn more from losing than winning. In the end I think too many things went against them - the hot temperature, the grass being too long and some bad ref decisions, but I think they'll learn alot from it and it will make them a stronger team in the long run.
Rachel, UK

Being a die-hard Man U fan, I was seriously disapointed to see the predicatble response of the English press to United's efforts. We always want to build up and knock down the sides we produce. They seem to will our national teams (Football/Cricket etc) to lose...
Mark Slater, UK

Big fish in a small pond - now, a little fish in a big pond! Rise to the level of play or don't play, but quit with all the excuses!
MB, UK

Man U does not have the monopoly on success. It is only that wonderful English tradition of knocking our successful teams, backed by a vitriolic football press which pushes teams into impossible situations. United were press-ganged into this folly and have not succeeded, it is not the end of the world just a defeat in a game of football.
Peter Cameron, Hong Kong

World class teams are world class wherever they are in the world. United's defence has been exposed as second-rate, and whilst the work rate has been exceptional when under pressure their over-paid prima donnas have singularly failed to live up to their price tags.
Alastair Forbes, Scotland

The team don't want to be there nor does the manager! So if you put in some under par performences who's to notice?
Mark Berridge, England

In Europe the player has become the focal point. With bloated pocket books and egos they are not trained to accept that they have to perform in a team environment, instead playing as if the the team is there for them. If Manchester United players accept that they have been taught a lesson and do not reduce this to episode to a series of excuses, then I believe that they will go on to become an even more dominant force. Unfortunately I do not believe that they will be willing to make the sacrifice that is required.
Chris, Canada

It's been a great week for all those kids who ever dreamed of lifting the FA Cup. Those who have contempt for every true football fan in this country have got their just deserts. Let's hope the rest of the season brings as much joy.
Tim Neil, England

Defeat doesn't mean the end of the world. Those who say that Man U are overrated may have a case but permit me to ask a very humble question: Which team from Europe can could have done better?
B A Adjei, USA

BA Adjei asked which European team could have done better? Well, Real Madrid for a start - they are doing better!
B Riley, England

You don't become a bad team by simply losing one game. You have to take into account the environment in which they were playing and that Vasco scored their goals by two bad defensive errors from one of the most reliable defenders in the game.

The players and the manager of Manchester United (MU) should learn to recognise when another team plays better than them and not to blame the weather or the referee.
Jorge Leon-Pardo, Mexico

It is easily forgotten what happened last May when United beat the best in England and the best in Europe. Who are we?? Treble winners!!!
Phil, N.Ireland

The Liverpool 80s team would have smashed the current Man Utd team. They are simply NOT the best...a lot of growing up to do.
Bernie, England

I think Man Utd has emerged as a the quintessential rich football club at a time when it is assumed only the richest clubs can compete.

They are the club equivalent to the Brazilian national team. But instead of producing great talent like Brazil, they can now buy it.

Many assert the Brazilian national team is the best national team on earth. I contend that they, like Man Utd, have assembled the best players.

Because, money has become such a huge player in the football world, I believe the days of dominant club dynasties are long over. Instead, it will be a quick cycle of overrated club after overrated club.
James, USA

The sloppy defending is nothing new. Remember Fiorentina? But I doubt any English side would have fared much better in such an unfriendly setting.
Rob Hisnay, USA (Vermont)

The 3-1 defeat by the Brazilians might be a good thing to the 'flying' Man U. It made them reckon they are not the best, even though they never were. Their success depends on their marketing success and their luckiness. They have got brilliant players. but a series of successes have made them arrogant, greedy and lazy. They have lost their 'hunger' for success. Losing can teach them a good lesson: there are still some better than you.
Dominic, Hong Kong

Don't talk such sensationalist rubbish. They had an off day, and that's it. I'm a Liverpool fan, and even I can admit thay are the greatest team of their generation.
Nick Wall, England

Manchester United just got too big for their own boots. They deserved to flop after leaving the English FA Cup as defending champs.
David Hughlock, USA

Yes, it is a disappointing result, all we Man U supporters were suffering by the red card case. Who wants to be a hated person suddenly? So all referees please do your jobs properly! Football games' result shouldn't be controlled by referees, but by the players on the pitch!
SIM, UK

Just think what could have happened if they had let Beckham wear his underwar on the outside of his shorts.
David Scott, Liverpool, UK

I think Manchester United are still a very good team (this coming from a Liverpool supporter), but I think they severely underestimated the other teams in the tournament.

They thought this tournament would be a nice walk on one of Rio's fine beaches. I hate to say it, but Manchester United are not the only ones who have underestimated the rest of the world.

I think Europeans (press, fans etc.) all presumed we'd get a Real Madrid-Manchester United final. Its time Europeans stopped acting so arrogant and realized that other parts of the world can play football and be good at it too.

Oh, and I can't wait to hear Manchester United's excuse for being put in their place by Vasco Da Gama.
Kevin, United States

Yes. I believe that Manchester United are grossly over-rated. They are extremly inconsistent, in the sense that all the matches that they have lost during the past few seasons are because of simple defensive errors, which mistakes, a team from the conference league would not make.

And, how many, supposedly, quality teams travel to Stamford Bridge, and get hammered 5-0, by a team that was totally off form, before and since.

Also how many times have Man. Utd. won matches in the last two minutes or in injury time?

Man. Utd. are probably, the lukiest side in Europe for the past three seasons. What have they got? Nothing, except a few stylish players, who sometimes, 'gel' well together, but most of the time make silly errors.
James Cambbell, Russia.

I think the whole 'Man Utd' publicity bandwagon has gotten out of control and reached a level that its team cannot.

They say 'they're the best'...well Liverpool were at the top for 30 years and regularly paid 55-65 matches a season, and they never complained to the extent that Manchester United Plc does!!
Steve Tandy, USA

Yes this team is overrated, the better team on the night in the Champions final last year was Dortmund who outplayed United for 90 minutes.

And as regards the league, Arsenal were in the driving seat to win but for a loss at Leeds.

Also we must remember the penalty miss by Bergkamp in the FA cup last season, all I can say is Lady Luck was with Utd all the way last season and they are not in the same class as the Best, Law, Chalton era.
Nigel Warner, USA/ UK

I don't think they are overated. The climate favoured south American teams, the results would probably be different if played in say Norway!

Brazillian sides will be more skillful, eg Beckhams free kick skills must be common place in Brasil, but European sides can make up the skill sort fall by organisation and teamwork.

The sum becomes greater than the individual parts, Germany for example
V Narayan, Sweden

MUFC are overrated only by those who never expect them to make mistakes, have an off day or, horror of horrors, lose a game.
David Mandel, Thailand

Simply overconfident
J.A., UK

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See also:
08 Jan 00 |  Manchester United
Man Utd's world title bid demolished
09 Jan 00 |  Manchester United
No regrets for Ferguson
07 Jan 00 |  Football
Beckham banned
08 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Football pundit accuses Posh

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