History of the English Football League v Italian League inter-league match

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Manchester United and France’s Paul Pogba
With Premier League club’s transfer spending surpassing a billion pounds for the first time this summer, it adds to the age-old debate of which is the strongest league in Europe. There used to be a fixture which helped find the answer.

For over 100 years an English Football League XI faced a Scottish, Irish, and Italian league counterpart. Not to be confused with the Anglo-Italian and Anglo-Scottish Cup which involved club sides, the fixtures consisted of a select team of players playing in the respective leagues at the time.

The Football League’s first games against the Scottish League came in 1892 and 1893, followed by a 4-2 win over the Irish League in 1894. Regular fixtures continued and later the English League faced an Italian League side in 1960; a 4-2 defeat at the Stadio San Siro. A further three ties between the two followed that decade.

The fixture returned on 16 January 1991 in Naples when the EFL lost 3-0 to Serie A, the most cosmopolitan league in the world at the time. The Italian League squad included Marco van Basten, Diego Simeone, Lothar Matthaus and Paolo Di Canio. Diego Maradona, who was playing for Napoli at the time, was due to play in the game but had to return to Argentina after a family illness.

The Football League side was also strong with the likes of John Barnes, Ian Rush, David Seaman and Lee Dixon. Their manager at the time, Lawrie McMenemy, praised both sets of players for their desire to play in the match. The tie though struggled to capture the imagination of the public with many tickets given away for free. However, positive discussions took place regarding a further fixture at Anfield.

Final fixture

The last match, and 13th of its kind, took place on 21 February 2006 in Hull which was an under-21s affair. The Football League won the game 1-0 and featured Manchester United’s Ashley Young, Watford’s Ben Watson and Leicester City’s 2015/16 Premier League winning captain Wes Morgan.

The Italian League had the edge over the English Football League winning the majority of inter-league games on record between the two. Familiar faces featured in the fixture over the years but dwindling attendances meant the tie ultimately came to an end.

Today the Premier League can boast as being the wealthier division resulting in such deals as Manchester United’s acquisition of Paul Pogba for a record transfer fee. Although with Juventus performing strongly in recent Champions League campaigns, who would win between the two leagues today?

All of the Football League’s inter-league results can be found here.

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Manchester United – The future’s bright the futures ‘Young’

Nani, Ashley Young and Tom Cleverly celebrate

After a thrilling Community Shield comeback yesterday, Manchester United’s talented youngsters make for an exciting future at the club.

After what was, most would agree, an average season in terms of performances last season, the new term has already promised to be a vast improvement for the Reds. Although the champions won the Premier League and only lost out to Barcelona in the Champions League final last season, they often struggled with inconsistency away from Old Trafford. Sir Alex’s men had to grind out far more results than they’d have liked, often having to comeback from behind. Although some things haven’t changed, the squad has had an injection of young talent with loanees returning and three new summer signings. Four players featured for England earlier in the summer during the under-21 European Championships while also new signing David De Gea kept goal for winners Spain.

Additions

Phil Jones from Blackburn, Ashley Young from Aston Villa and with goalkeeper De Gea moving from Athletico Madrid this completes Sir Alex’s signings thus far this summer. Young, who looked as though he’d been playing for the club for years yesterday, created United’s first goal. Jones came on in the second-half and performed strongly on his début partnering fellow youngster Johnny Evans in central defence. De Gea made the mistake for Manchester City’s second goal but it looks as though the 20-year-old can make a real impact in England after admitting his games suits the English game. Danny Welbeck, Tom Clevery and Mame Biram Diouf have returned from successful loan spells in the Premier League plus with Federico Macheda returning from half a season with Sampdoria, this adds to the talented youngsters already at the club.

The squad already feels much stronger and larger than last season, even after influential departures including Edwin van der Sar, Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves. The midfield which was once seen to be lightweight now consists of Darren Fletcher, Antonio Valencia, Darron Gibson, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young, Nani, Michael Carrick, Park Ji-Sung, Ryan Giggs and Anderson. Also with Wesley Sneijder recently quoted as saying “Inter need money and I’m for sale if there are clubs willing to pay the right price. I don’t know what my future is.” Could the play-maker be the finishing touch to this already strong squad.

The squad has a core of British players which is important for the development of future young talent while they also understand exactly what it takes to play in the Premier League and understand the importance of rivalries between clubs. Welbeck and Clevery both were called up to the England squad for the proposed friendly game with Holland along with team-mates Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Rio Ferdinand which can only further their development.

So as the new season approaches Manchester United look to once again be the team to beat with smart buys and dynamic young talent which are set to thrill on the biggest stage. If the Reds can improve on there league form from last season, title number 20 will surely be another addition to the clubs already impressive honours.

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