MANCHESTER UNITED are back in the Champions League, and out here in the States Jose Mourinho was glad to remind his players of the step up.
In the last two games against Real Madrid and Barcelona they were up against two clubs who have won six of the last nine finals in that competition.
There was a time when the Red Devils were their equals, they have slipped well off that lofty pedestal that the two Spanish giants own.
But even in friendlies out here in the States there were positive signs that they can climb back.
True they were friendlies, a lot of changes in the second half and Real did not have the great Cristiano Ronaldo.
Still, they drew with Real Madrid and went on to beat them in a penalty shoot-out.
Against a Barcelona including that incredible front line of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez for the first period, they could easily have pulled out another creditable draw.
Before a huge, loud, enthusiastic crowd of 80,162 in Washington’s FedEx Field they played out a game which was undoubtedly the highlight of their five match US tour – the first half at least.
That thrilled the crowd with end to end football and it could have finished two a piece.
At the break Barcelona’s seven shots on target to United’s three proved they had the edge.
They also had Lionel Messi. You just can’t get bored watching those quick feet switch the ball from side to side as he threads his way through the narrowest of gaps.
It was his ball into the box on 31 minutes that left Antonio Valencia in a tangle and allowed Neymar to turn on the ball and slot it past David de Gea.
Goodness knows why Neymar would want to leave this Barca side for Paris Saint-Germain but overnight rumours were gathering pace that a five-year deal had been agreed and this could be his last game.