Last updated : 01 August 2004 By Editor

Depending on which way you do the math, we lost 3 or lost 1 and drawn 2 on this stupid tour.

The Sunday Times:

And yet, in keeping with the overall nature of their troubled 11-day stint in the US, Sir Alex Ferguson and his players managed to board their flight back to Manchester with another defeat among their baggage. Flattered by trailing only 1-0 in the 90th minute, Milan sneaked an equaliser in stoppage time after Andriy Shevchenko turned Kaka’s cross past Tim Howard. Then, just as against Bayern Munich in Chicago, United came second in a penalty shootout. It was a protracted one lasting 17 minutes and 20 spot-kicks but, eventually, Dida touched Howard’s effort onto the post to give Milan a 9-8 victory.

Thank God Tim missed," joked Ferguson. "Me and (Carlo) Ancelotti (the Milan coach) were next."

The smile drained from his face when, as the post-match press conference progressed, he was thrown more questions about the problems surrounding United’s tour. "It’s been a difficult trip, particularly because of the availability of players. We probably didn’t analyse the South American thing well enough. We went in blind on that one," he said.

The latter was a reference to the Copa America, which deprived United of Gabriel Heinze, Diego Forlan and Kleberson. The club are looking into returning to the US as early as 2006 — a World Cup year. They are exploring making shorter visits in future. "In order of priority, America is the key (overseas) market for us," said David Gill, United’s chief executive. "We’re not going to make a firm judgment now (on 2006) but we’re not stupid and will learn from the issues raised on this tour. We need to put in some thought to ensure in future, in even-numbered years, we can deliver on what we promise.

"The critical element is getting the players right for the start of the season and also creating a chance for fans in other countries to see us in the flesh. But the tours are clearly lucrative and we make no bones about that."

Scholes gave the Americans more thrills in a single moment of brutal finishing than they experienced over three hours of United’s play in Philadelphia and Chicago. After Alessandro Nesta pushed a 33rd-minute David Bellion free kick into his path, Scholes thrashed it into the top corner of Dida’s net. Milan played their top XI but were inferior. Ryan Giggs dallied when offered a similar opportunity to Scholes and Wes Brown missed with a header.

On a pitch laid only last Monday, Scholes was at the centre of some brisk and fluent United passing. United left as "losers" but at least, and at last, had put on a show.