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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 18 August, 2018
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After seven years, Man United coming back to Ireland to 'say thanks' for all the support

“It’s great to come over to Dublin and make it easier for our fans to come and see Manchester United.”

A LOT HAS CHANGED in the time since Manchester United last visited these shores, but one thing remains certain; an appearance at the Aviva Stadium this summer will draw another sell-out crowd.

Fans in the Aviva Stadium United fans at the game against an Airtricity League XI in August 2010. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Sir Alex Ferguson brought his side to Dublin for the opening of the redeveloped stadium back in August 2010 and today’s announcement that United are returning to the Irish capital is sure to please the club’s supporters here.

Although United’s fortunes have changed dramatically in those intervening seven years since their last outing in Dublin, the appeal remains as strong as ever and the friendly against Sampdoria will be played in-front of a capacity crowd of 50,000.

Speaking at the launch of August’s fixture, former United defender, and now club ambassador, Gary Pallister said coming here is always a way of thanking the thousands of fans in Ireland.

“It’s seven years since we were in this part of the world so I mean it was something we did quite frequently under Sir Alex and we know about the tremendous support we do receive from the Irish fans,” he said.

“We want to come over and say thanks to the fans for all the support and when you go to Old Trafford it’s great to see so many Irish fans at the place. It’s giving something back.

“It’s great to come over to Ireland and Dublin and make it easier for our fans to come and see Manchester United. It’s a long haul for them at weekends but at the same time it’s great to see all the Irish fans over in Old Trafford and it has always been the case since I was playing.

“Dublin is a great city with great people and it’s brilliant Manchester United are coming back after so long. It’s not like it’s going to be just a kick in the park either with the season starting 10 days later.”

Gary Pallister Pallister speaking at the Aviva Stadium earlier. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

United’s outing against the Italians at Lansdowne Road will mark the end of a busy pre-season period with Jose Mourinho’s side set to play seven games, including five on their tour of America, before the 2017/18 campaign.

The manager has previously lamented the number of fixtures his side have had to fulfil and used tiredness as an excuse for some of his team’s poor performances during his first season in charge.

Looking ahead to Wednesday’s Europa League final against Ajax, Pallister does concede the result will define United’s season with a place in the Champions League on the line.

“We’ve won a trophy which is fantastic but we finished outside the top four which is disappointing.” he continued.

“If we win this trophy on Wednesday night it will be another piece of silverware and Champions League qualification so it will define the season and there’s no doubt about that. There’s no getting away from it.

“I think we’re favourites going into the game but I’d say we’ve had mixed fortunes this year in the Europa League. We’ve had some great performances and some abject performances so let’s hope we’re able to put in one of the great performances on Wednesday night.”

While Pallister puts United’s hit-and-miss season down to injuries, suspensions and tiredness from a packed schedule, he was also quick to defend Mourinho, insisting he has delivered this year with the Charity Shield and EFL Cup sitting in the Old Trafford trophy cabinet.

Liam Brady and Gary Pallister Pallister and Liam Brady in Dublin this morning launching the friendly on 2 August. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“Well he’s delivered a Charity Shield, EFL Cup and he’s in a Europa League final so I guess he’s still delivering. People might look at the league placing and that’s something he possibly won’t be happy with. There’s silverware in the cabinet and hopefully more.”

But defeat in Stockholm would surely render the season as a failure for Mourinho and United?

“I wouldn’t say seen as a failure, I would say more disappointing,” Pallister added.

“When you’re the size of Manchester United you’re looking at Champions League football and that’s something we haven’t been able to deliver by our league placing so that’s something that I’m sure Jose [Mourinho] is a little bit concerned about.

“He’s maybe talked about putting all his eggs in one basket and after so many draws at Old Trafford, it made it difficult for us to qualify through the top four, so he’s made sure we’ve got to this Europa League final where hopefully on Wednesday night, we’ll cement that Champions League place.”

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