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United eye midweek friendlies to fill CL gap

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ROONEY-LEICESTERMANCHESTER, September 30-Manchester United are exploring the possibility of playing midweek friendlies overseas in the absence of European football for the club this season.

The Red Devils have just one midweek fixture scheduled before the turn of the year following their early exit in the Capital One Cup after losing to MK Dons in the second round.

Their failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League or Europa League under former boss David Moyes means that Louis van Gaal’s side will also play just three times in midweek for the first three months of 2015.

One solution to the fixture void could see United travelling abroad to feature in lucrative friendlies, with the Middle East mooted as a destination, where they would attract much commercial interest following the recent arrivals of star duo Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao.

Commenting on the idea, United managing director Richard Arnold told The Associated Press: “That’s something we continue to look at, as always making sure that the preparations we do on the pitch come first.

“For many years 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 [friendlies] with [coach] Louis [Van Gaal].”

The Dutch tactician voiced his dissatisfaction of the club’s pre-season tour to the United States as an obligation to sponsors shortly after his appointment, but Arnold foresees no issues with Van Gaal on this front.

He added: “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.

“We have a fantastic partnership in terms of our work off the pitch and I’m very appreciative of the support we have had from him.”

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