The Blades Academy's pre-season tour to the Netherlands, where they will be joined by Bradford City, Birmingham City and Portsmouth, finally got lift-off in earnest earlier this week after flights at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport were grounded for large parts of Monday due to adverse weather conditions.
Organised by League Football Education (LFE), the tour, which lasts until 9th August, will help each Club prepare for the new season and aid the development of their youth-team players who will pit their wits against counterparts from top Dutch clubs.
The four Football League clubs will all be based with famous Dutch club sides, with the Blades staying at NAC Breda, Bradford at Roda JC Kerkrade, Birmingham being hosted by PSV Eindhoven, and Portsmouth located at Vitesse Arnhem. United will all play at least three matches on the 12 day tour.
The initiative, which is fully subsidised by the Leonardo Da Vinci fund for Life Long Learning, will provide plenty of new experiences and a chance for players to sample a different football culture and to broaden their horizons both personally and professionally.
As well as participating in training sessions with some of the country's top coaches at state-of-the-art facilities, the youngsters will also get the opportunity to attend AFC Ajax versus PEC Zwolle (Johan Cruyff Shield) and take part in a Q&A session with staff from the Amsterdam club.
Dan Jolley, Projects Manager at LFE, says: "This is the sixth year we've been awarded funds for our 'Leonardo Life Long Learning' programme - which is fantastic. It recognises that our objectives are strongly aligned with those of the European Commission's Lifelong Learning programme's to exchange best practice between European nations, to increase staff expertise and develop skills and it also allows us to support talented young English footballers.
"Over 70 of our apprentices have made the trip and we've no doubt that it will benefit them. Culturally it's the chance for them to sample a different way of life while many of them will experience playing against continental opposition for the first time. Learning about different styles of play, coaching and tactics can only help them become better players."