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Denis Irwin Confident Man Utd Will Finish Second in EPL

USA tour and Earthquakes game part of Van Gaal master plan for next season

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The California sun blazed down on Manchester United legend Denis Irwin outside the Levi’s Stadium on Wednesday as if to make up in some small measure for the 12 years he held the back line in the steady downpour of the Manchester Summer.

The occasion was the announcement of the 2015 International Champions Cup North America, which Manchester United won last year. The top flight English club will play two games in the Bay Area: The San Jose Earthquakes will play the Red Devils on July 21, followed by the showdown between Barcelona and Manchester United at Levi's Stadium on July 25.

Former Manchester United defender Denis Irwin joined former Barcelona player and 2002 World Cup winner Juliano Belletti, along with San Jose Earthquakes president Dave Kaval, and 49ers and Relevent Sports officials to announce the Bay Area games of the 10-team tournament that runs from July 11 through August 5.

In his 12 years at Old Trafford, Denis Irwin made 296 Premier League appearances and won 7 Premier League title medals, as well as 3 FA Cup winners medals (1994, 1996 and 1999), a League Cup winner's medal, and Champions League and Cup Winners' Cup honors.

When asked if the tournament put any additional pressure on Manchester United to finish higher than 4th in the EPL and thus avoid an addition UEFA Champions League qualifying game, Irwin said:

“Not at all. We want to finish second because I think Chelsea will win it. We’d prefer to finish second or third to avoid that play-off position but the manager’s come out here, it’s him that’s organized the tour. We’re really looking forward to coming out here and playing the games and preparing for the beginning of the season, which for us the 8th of August. All this is done in preparation for that day. I know the (UEFA Champions League) qualifying matches are around August but the manager has taken a huge interest in this and he’s the one that’s organized it in preparation for the start of the Premier League season.”

Last year, at the start of the EPL season, new Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal voiced some criticism of the length of the USA tour for his players. He was unhappy that the games, organized before he took control of the team, involved so much travel back and forth across the USA, and said that it wouldn’t happen again.

The venue for the San Jose Earthquakes versus Manchester United game on July 21 has yet to be announced.

Indeed not all of the competitions games are being played in USA.
In total, 10 teams from around the globe, including England (Manchester United F.C., Chelsea F.C.), Portugal (FC Porto), France (Paris Saint-Germain F.C.), Mexico (Club América), Spain (Barcelona), Italy (ACF Fiorentina) and the United States (San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls) will compete.

Tournament Schedule

Saturday, July 11
Club América vs. Los Angeles Galaxy – StubHub Center; Carson, California. 11:30 p.m. EST

Tuesday, July 14
Club América vs. San Jose Earthquakes – Avaya Stadium; San Jose, California. 10:30 p.m. EST

Friday, July 17
Club América vs. Manchester United F.C. – CenturyLink Field; Seattle, Washington. 11 p.m. EST

Saturday, July 18
FC Porto vs. Paris Saint-Germain F.C. – BMO Field; Toronto, Canada. 8:30 p.m. EST

Tuesday, July 21
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. FC Barcelona – Rose Bowl; Los Angeles, California. 11 p.m. EST

Paris Saint-Germain F.C. vs. ACF Fiorentina – Red Bull Arena; Harrison, New Jersey. 8:30 p.m. EST

Manchester United F.C. vs. San Jose Earthquakes – To Be Announced.

Wednesday, July 22
Chelsea F.C. vs. New York Red Bulls – Red Bull Arena; Harrison, New Jersey. 8 p.m. EST

Friday, July 24
ACF Fiorentina vs. FC Porto – Rentschler Field; Hartford, Connecticut. 8 p.m. EST

Saturday July 25
Manchester United F.C. vs. F.C. Barcelona – Levi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, California. 4 p.m. EST

Paris Saint-Germain F.C. vs. Chelsea F.C. – Bank of America Stadium; Charlotte, North Carolina. 6 p.m. EST

Sunday, July 26
FC Porto vs. New York Red Bulls – Red Bull Arena; Harrison, New Jersey. 7:30 p.m. EST

Tuesday, July 28
FC Barcelona vs. Chelsea F.C. – FedEx Field; Washington D.C. 8 p.m. EST

Club América vs. FC Porto – Estadio Azteca; Mexico City, Mexico. 10 p.m. EST

Wednesday, July 29
Manchester United F.C. vs. Paris Saint-Germain F.C. – Solider Field; Chicago, Illinois. 9 p.m. EST

Sunday, August 2
ACF Fiorentina vs. FC Barcelona – Stadio Artemio Franchi; Florence, Italy. 1 p.m. EST

Wednesday, August 5
Chelsea F.C. vs. ACF Fiorentina – Stamford Bridge; London, England. 3 p.m. EST