Roberto Mancini and Gareth Barry joined Harry Redknapp and Tom Huddlestone at the Red Bulls arena in New Jersey this afternoon to launch the Barclays New York Challenge.
The Blues will take on Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon on Friday night and then the host side on Sunday lunchtime in their second and third pre-season games.
Both managers complimented the Red Bulls on their facilities and said they were looking forward to the event, the first of its specific type in the sports-mad city.
Run under the banner of the Word Series of Football, it is hoped the event will further boost soccer in the States following the strong showing from the USA team in the World Cup in South Africa this summer.
“The players are all delighted to be in New York, it is the perfect way to increase the intensity of pre-season against quality opposition,” declared Barry who only landed in the USA from England an hour before the launch.
All the teams have a chance to win the trophy not least the Red Bulls who will have an advantage in fitness
Stuart Webb, World Series of Football President, has no doubts that the Blues arrival in town will help fan the football flames that have begun to burn so brightly on this side of the Atlantic.
“This will be a festival of football,” he predicted. “It will be worthy of the great city of New York. We want the Barclays New York Challenge to contribute to the development of soccer in the USA.
“There is great interest in this country from kids upwards. The leagues are developing and great stadiums are being developed. It is all coming together. In five years time this place will be a hotbed.”
Red Bulls, who are managed by former City assistant manager Hans Backe, will hand a debut to Thierry Henry during the tournament that kicks off tomorrow night when they play Spurs whilst the returning Barry, Vladimir Weiss and Yaya Toure will bolster the Blues ranks following the switch from West to East in the States.
Inevitably Mancini was pressed on his transfer activity for the rest of the summer but played a straight bat in very traditional style telling the audience simply that the Blues ‘are always interested in good players’ before smiling and quipping ‘I don’t think Manchester City can buy all the players in Europe.’
Watch out tomorrow for exclusive interviews on mcfc.co.uk with Gareth Barry as he discusses the World Cup disappointment, his battle for a place and the title chances and with Hans Backe as he looks back on his time at City and tips one in the ranks to be a big star for England.