Daily Mail


- MIKE KEEGAN CONTRIBUTO­RS: Dominic King and Paul Newman

THE staggering scale of Manchester united’s operation for their pre- season tour of Australia and Asia had to be seen to be believed.

An incredible 140 members of backroom staff took part at one stage or another — more than twice as many as some of their rivals — with a burly, 20- strong security team keeping a close eye on things.

Club officials have branded the tour a huge success both on and off the pitch. Given the numbers involved, you would hope so. PUMA made a big statement when becoming the official kit suppliers to Manchester City, but there is a possibilit­y they will now strike an alliance with the Premier League champions’ great rivals. Liverpool, who finished a point behind City last season, have been in talks with all the big providers in recent months, including the German firm. The Reds are seeking a record kit deal for when their £45million-a-year terms end in 2020 — with adidas, Nike and current suppliers New Balance holding the aces, given their ability to sell in all parts of the globe. However, Puma are firmly on the scene and it would be interestin­g to see — if they were to strike a deal with Liverpool — how much the terms would be compared to City’s, whose 10-year terms are worth £650m. A SCATHING piece by Chinese state media on Manchester City’s perceived unwillingn­ess to engage with local media and fans did not go unnoticed by some of the other english clubs visiting the country. At one, the phrase ‘ Manchester City’d’ was coined — as in ‘let’s not get Manchester City’d’ — when players were being briefed for interactiv­e events. JOSE MOURINHO was sacked by Manchester united in December but he has helped the club set a record this summer. the club’s trip to Perth on a specially commission­ed Boeing 777, arranged while Mourinho was still in charge, was the longest ever direct flight from Manchester Airport. Sports

Agenda has been told that Mourinho, never a big fan of a pre-season tour, insisted that there be no stop on the 9,083-mile trip. eager to please, united travelled on what has been described as the ‘world’s newest, largest and most spacious luxury jet’, with a stand-up bar, social lounge and team of butlers. MAURICIO POCHETTINO knows how to get journalist­s onside. the tottenham manager returned to the team hotel after a meal at a top shanghai restaurant last week to find a small group of reporters enjoying a bite to eat and a drink in the bar with a couple of members of the club’s media team.

When the group went to pay, they were told the impressive Pochettino, who joined them for a brief chat, had also looked after the bill. THE recent Channel 4 documentar­y about England’s 2005 Ashes victory won plenty of plaudits. In the 14 years since that never-to-be-forgotten series, some members of the victorious squad have done significan­tly better than others. It was interestin­g to note, then, that those who have done relatively well financiall­y made the decision to pool their fees for the programme and distribute them to those who have not. ASHLEY COLE was all smiles as Chelsea’s tour ambassador, but it didn’t take him long to get the needle at his sprawling new home.

Cole, who is expected to retire as a player after his recent stint at Derby County, paid £2.4m for a luxury new-build close to the Blues’ Cobham training ground.

However, he asked the local authority for permission to cut back pine and birch trees which were dropping needles on his front lawn.

the trees are protected by a preservati­on order, so Cole needed the green light from Mole valley Council, which was given following no objections from neighbours in an area which boasts the likes of sir Andy Murray and sir Michael Caine as residents.

 ?? DARREN WALSH ?? Club man: Cole on tour
DARREN WALSH Club man: Cole on tour
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