Having reached the final last year, United will be pushing to win the Milk Cup again this summer. A 3-0 loss to Desportivo Brazil in the final last year “flattered” the opposition according to Alan Pardew, who delayed his flight to the senior squad's pre-season friendly in Portugal, in order to watch the final.
The competition has been graced by some of the greatest footballers in the world, including the likes of Wayne Rooney, Sergio Busquets, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Joe Cole and Paul Scholes. One player in particular who shone last time round was Adam Campbell, announced player of the tournament, who will be itching to follow in the footsteps of the high profile names above.
Newcastle kick-start their Milk Cup campaign on July 29th against Chilean side O’Higgins FC, before playing local team County Armagh the next day, and then Liverpool FC the day after that. If United were to do well in the group games, they would potentially face a semi-final and final on consecutive days. Such a grueling schedule will certainly not be easy. Despite this, Head Coach Dave Watson said his side are “really looking forward to it”.
The Magpies last won the Milk Cup in 1989. After having come so close last year, Watson and his squad of youngsters will be eager to deliver the cup for a third time.
Watson stressed that it should not be forgotten that the Milk Cup acts as a springboard for young players, “It’s done them the world of good – Adam (Campbell) has been promoted to the first team and Adam (Armstrong) has been called up for the England under-16 squad so it really is a big stage to perform on.”
The cup formally begins this Sunday 28th July. The host country is Northern Ireland, as it has been since the competitions conception in 1983. It has been announced that Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill, who played in the cup as a youngster himself, will open this year’s tournament.
It seems that the Milk Cup shouldn’t be taken for granted by United’s young talents. Victory would certainly give the whole club great confidence going into the 2013/14 season, which starts in less than a months time.
Henry G Winter
(all credit for quotes goes to nufc.co.uk)