What the papers say
Manchester United survived a minor scare to emerge from a chaotic white-knuckle ride in Rome and will face Villarreal in the final
Jamie Jackson, our man on the Manchester football beat, provides his take on a helter-skelter night at the Stadio Olimpico.
“It’s unheard of,” he says. “It’s made by people who have never played football at this level. It’s physically impossible for the players to do it. After being here tonight, they have to play Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday which is impossible. We’ve not been dealt a good hand but we’ll have to play it as well as we can. We’rte going to need everyone in these four games but we’ll just have to be ready.”
“It feels good of course,” the Manchester United manager tells BT Sport. “We played one very, very good half at Old Trafford, which has brought us through. Today we did a job ... I’m disappointed we lost the game because I never like to lose a game, especially the way we did it, but it was always going to be one of these open games with chances for both teams. It could have been 6-6 or 8-g to them. It was strange game of football.”
What was bewhind Roma’s performance tonight? “Well, we kept giving them the ball. We kept losing it in bad positions but luckily we’ve got one of the best goalkeepers in the world. And luckily we have a No9 up there, up front who wants to score goals. Edi and David – two top performances by them.”
Nick Ames was at the Emirates Stadium to see Arsenal go out with a not entirely surprising whimper as Villarreal booked a date with Manchester United in the Europa League final. Read on ...
Harry Maguire speaks: “It’s a great achievement,” says the Manchester United captain in an interview swith BT Sport. “Obviously we didn’t win the game tonight so that’s a big disappointment but we did the hard work in the first leg and put ourselves in a great position.
“Tonight we needed to start the first half well but I thought we were a bit edgy. We had chances, they had chances ... they actually played a man-to-man pressing style which made the game end-to-end like basketball and there were chances for both teams. We had a good result at half-time but in the second half we gave them too many chances. We need to improve for the final, but it’s a great achievement.”
Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeeeeep! It’s all over in Rome, where Manchester United survived a minor scare to emerge victorious from a marvellously entertaining semi-final played across two legs. Roma were terrific tonight, certainly creating enough chances to put the collective heart crossways in Manchester United, but ultimately coming up short following their disastrous performance at Old Trafford.
Manchester United are through to the Europa League final, where they will meet the Spanish side Villarreal. Unai Emery’s side have just dumped out his former employers Arsenal.
90+1 min: Somewhat harshly, Brandon Williams is booked for a rash challenge on Roger Ibanez.
88 min: On for Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford shoots high over the crossbar from distance. Moments later, Brandon Williams does the exact same thing.
86 min: Manchester United substitution: Juan Mata is on for Bruno Fernades, while Bryan Cristante has just been booked for something or other. Other yellow cards I forgot to tell you about in all the excitement: Rick Karsdorp and Edinson Cavani got booked for a bit of handbags some time ago.
Wow. Zalewski smashes the ball goalwards from a tight angle and the ball goes in off Alex Telles. There’s a hint of offside but the goal is given. Whether or not the debutant will get to keep it remains to be seen; I suspect it will be chalked up as an own goal.
82 min: Roma have had 11 shots on target in this game comapred to Manchester United’s four. Both sides have hit the woodwork, efforts which aren’t counted as being on target. It’s been quite the chaotic white-knuckle ride.
80 min: Roma swarm forward again and Mkhitaryan tries to play in Pellegrini. His touch lets him down and the ball carries through to De Gea.
77 min: Roma double-substitution: Nicola Zalewski and Borja Mayoral on for Pedro and Edin Dzeko.
76 min: Pedro crosses into the Manchester United penalty area, where Edin Dzeko heads over the bar.
75 min: Nothing comes of the set-piece, but Roma do win a freee-kick about 40 yards from the U|nited goal. Pellegrini curls the ball in and it’s put out for a corner. Harry Maguire clears the ensuing inswinger.
74 min: Another great chance for Roma! Mkhitartyan runs on to a through ball and thumps the ball against the foot of the post from a tight angle. It takes a nick off Harry Maguire en route and goes out for a corner.
72 min: This has been a terrific game of football. Way, way better than I think anyone was expecting. With a bit more precision up front, Roma could have given Manchester United a real scare. They’ve had the scoring opportiunities, they jkust couldn’t put them away.
71 min: Roma substitution: Davide Santon, formerly of Newcastle United, replaces Bruno Peres.
Panic over. Edinson Cavani beats the Roma offside trap to run into space and meet a Bruno Fernandes delivery. From ther penalty spot, he spanks a downwards header past Mirante and into the back of the net. That’s seven goals in his past six games for the Uruguayan.
67 min: One suspects Ole Gunnar Solskjær may be questioning the wisdom of removing his full-backs at half-time. Their replacements, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams, are being rent asunder down both flanks.
66 min: Mason Greenwood clips the ball over the goalkeeper and wide of the far post after meeting an excellent pass into the Roma penalty asrea from Bruno Fernandes.
65 min: Manchester United substitution: Nemanja Matic on for Paul Pogba.
62 min: And again! Another remarkable save from De Gea, who somehow keeps out a Mkhitaryan effort from close range after the Armenian met a Pedcro cross. I’m not sure the Manchester United goalkeeper knew much about that - Mkhitaryan’s effort hit his leg.
61 min: Oh wow! From close range, David de Gea saves brilliantly from Pedro. If that had gone in it would have been “game on” in a big way.
There’s another. A mistake by Fred giftspossession to Roma and Cristante shoots past De Gea from distance. It’s a beauty!
58 min: Fred is booked for an overzealous challenge on Ebrima Darobe.
The comeback is on! Edin Dzeko skims a header home from close range, getting on the end of a bouncing ball after Pedro had fired into the ground from the right.
54 min: Mancini is penalised for shoving Cavani to the ground just inside the Roma half. For reasons that remain unclear, the Uruguayan is sporting a white sticking plaster on one of his exquisitly sculpted cheekbones. Perhaps he cut himself shaving.
53 min: Pedro shakes his head in frustration after being denied a corner and it looks like he might have a case. The ball appeared to go out out of the shin of Bailly.
51 min: David De Gea is forced to make another save from the livewire that is Lorenzo Pellegrini. You have to hand it to Roma for plugging away in the face of an insurmountable lead.
47 min: The ball strikes the out-stretched arm of Maguire in the Manchester United penalty area, but referee Felix Brych doesn’t award a penalty. After a quick VAR check, play resumes with Roma being denied a spot-kick. Maguire flicked the ball onto his own arm and given the current state of the handball law and its myriad interpretations, I have no idea whether Roma are entitled to feel hard done by or not. I’ve certainly seen penalties given for a lot less.
46 min: Play resumes with two changes in personnel on the Manchester United side. Brandon Williams and Alex Telles replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw.
Elsewhere in the Europa League: It’s scoreless between Arsenal and Villarreal in the other semi-final at the Emirates, with Arsenal trailing 2-1 from last week’s first leg in Spain. Paul Doyle is keeping tabs on that one ...
Peep! My hopes for this game were far from high but that was a tremendously entertaining first half. Manchester United sleptwalk through the opening 20 minutes and had to rely on David De Gea to keep the deadlock unbroken.
Edinson Cavani missed two good chances for the visitors before destroying any faint hopes Roma might have had of turning this tie around with his sixth goal in as many games. He’s been a terrific signing for United.
45+1 min: From the Roma byline, Donny van de Beek pulls thge ball back to Cavani, who tees up Fernandes. He curls his effort wide of the far post.
45 min: Bruno Fernandes ends up in a heap on the floor after attempting a scorpion kick on the edge of the Roma six-yard box. He failed to make contact with the ball that bounced his way from Mason, but it was worth a go.
43 min: Free-kick for Manchester United about 10 yards outside the Roma penalty area, a little left of centre. Bruno Fernandes, who won the free-kick, shoots the ball straight into the defensive wall.
41 min: Another fine save from David De Gea, who saves with a strong left hand from Mkhitaryan. Edin Dzeko played the ball to his team-mate at the far post and from close range he forced a very smart stop indeed from De Gea.
Game, set and match ... United. A ball in behind by Fred, who was sent on his way by a lovely touch from Fernandes, sends Cavani on his way in a one-on-one with Antonio Mirante. He makes no mistake on this occasion, smashing the ball past the Roma goalkeeper.
35 min: Roma need to score at least four goals to rescure to this tie and while they’ve failed to trouble the scoreboard operator this evening, it’s wortth noting they’ve had at least three excellent scoring opportunities. By the same token, of course, Edinson Cavani has gone close twice for Manchester United.
34 min: David De Gea gets down to save well from Pellegrini after the ball had squirted the Roma man’s way following a ponderous foray into the United penalty area by Edin Dzeko, who ran into traffic before he could fire off a shot.
33 min: Bruno Peres wins a corner off Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Nothing comes of it.
30 min: Henrikh Mkhitaryan gets on the end of a Pellegrini cross from the left and skims his header towards the far post wide. It’s a bad miss, considering he had a free header. The linesman raised his flag but I think the Armenian was onside.
29 min: Roma substitution: Chris Smalling off, Ebrima Darobe on. The nineteen year old Gambian comes on for only his second appearance for Roma.
28 min: It looks like the jig could be up for Chris Smalling, who goes down in need of treatment after smashing the ball out of play.
27 min: In the Roma goal, Antonio Mirante pulls off an astonishing save, somehow blocking and clawing away a howitzer of an Edinson Cavani shot from close range. Hats off to Bruno Fernandes, who picked out Cavani with a wonderful pass with the outside of his right foot.
25 min: Eric Bailly strides out of defence with the ball at his feet and is given the freedom of the park to advance as far as he likes. Approaching the penalty area, he attempts to play it wide to Greenwood, but passes it straight to Chris Smalling, who no longer plays on the same team as him.
23 min: Rick Karsdorp curls a wonderful long pass down the left flank, trying to pick out the run of Lorenzo Pellegrini. Luke Shaw beats the Roma No7 to the ball ... but only just.
22 min: Luke Shaw whips a nice cross into the Roma penalty area from the left but it’s headed clear.
19 min: Edinson Cavani runs on to a ball over the top, waits for it to bounce and lifts it over Roma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante. His effort is almost perfect in its execution but he rubs his hands through his long, luxurient locks in frustration upon seeing the ball clip the crossbar and roll on to the roof of the net.
18 min: Aaron Wan-Bissaka gets booked for a late tackle from behind on Bruno Peres. His team-mates argue that he got the ball (not that it matters), while referee Felix Brych quite correctly points out that he didn’t.
16 min: The game is still being played at a ridiculously frenetic pace, with Manchester United struggling to get a foot on the ball and slow things down to the more leisurely pace that would suit them. It’s scrappy but entertaining fare.
12 min: Roma continue to dominate but have yet to get the early goal that would really put a spring in their step. Pellegrini plays the ball forward to Mkhitaryan, who tries to flick it on with his heel to Edin Dzeko. It’s intercepted. The ball breaks to Pedro, who shoots high over the bar.
8 min: De Gea is forced to save again. Luke Shaw nods off and is beaten down the right by Rick Karsdorp, who pulls the ball back for Dzeko. De Gea sticks out a leg to save his effort. Roma are throwing the kitchen sink at Manchester United in these early stages.
6 min: Lorenzo Pellegrino attempts to reduce Roma’s arrears with a left-footed shot from the edge of the United penalty area. It’s well wide.
5 min: The ball had dropped for Mancini in the United penalty area and he attempted a scissors kick from close range - De Gea did splendidly to keep it out, although I suspect any goal the Roma midfielder may have scored would have been ruled out for a handball in the build-up.
3 min: Apologies for the minor delay in transmission - wifi issues. You join us shortly after David De Gera is forced to make an outsatanding save from Gianluca Mancini and just as Henrikh Mkhitaryan heads into the side-netting from the ensuing corner. Roma mean business.
Not long now: The teams are out on the pitch going through the last of the pre-match formalities, the players of Manchester United wearing their zebra-striped shirts, white shorts and white socks. Their hosts wear their traditional burgundy shirts, shorts and socks.
Those teams: Ole has picked an attacking side, spear headed by Edinson Cavani, with Mason Greenwood coming into the starting line-up for his 100th appearance for the club. Eric Bailly and Donny van de Beek also start. Scott McTominay, Victor Lindelof and Marcus Rashford drop out.
Roma make four changes from last week’s match, three of them enforced. Antonio Mirante starts in goal for the injured Pau Lopez. Gianluca Mancini, Bruno Peres and Pedro also start.
Roma: Mirante, Karsdrop, Smalling, Ibanez, Bruno Peres, Cristante, Mancini, Pedro, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan, Dzeko.
Subs: Boer, Fuzato, Santon, Mayoral, Kumbulla, Bove, Ciervo, Darboe, Zalewski.
“We’re not going to play on the [first leg] result, we’re going to play to win this game,” said Manchester United’s manager. “That’s the only way I think we can play this game. Of course there might be one or two changes in the selection, but we have to get into the final. Everyone says it’s done but I’ve seen bigger upsets than this. Roma beat Barcelona in a second leg after being 4-1 down.
Paulo Fonseca speaks: “We have to be realistic, obviously it won’t be easy to win 4-0,” said Roma’s soon-to-be former manager. “But in football I have seen and experienced many things, there is nothing that is impossible.
“Compared to us they will certainly be fresher and, in addition, they have the advantage of the first-leg result, which will make them feel safe. However, we want to win and fight to the end.”
Having learned on Monday that he’ll be relieved of his duties come season’s end to be replaced by Jose Mourinho, who will take up the cudgels during the summer, Roma manager Paulo Fonseca may not be overly concerned by the long list of absentees he is forced to plan without tonight.
Rome’s Olympic Stadium is the venue for the second leg of a semi-final that looks all over bar the shouting following Manchester United’s emphatic first leg victory. Having gone 2-1 down at Old Trafford, United spanked home five goals without reply to take what looks like an unassailable lead to the Italian capital.
Barring a collapse of quite frankly preposterous proportions, they will advance to the final in Gdansk, where they will meet Arsenal or Villarreal. Kick-off is at 8pm (BST) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.Continue reading...
- Preparations for delayed tournament thrown into disarray
- Up to 11 players likely to miss June warmup matches
Gareth Southgate’s preparations for the delayed Euro 2020 finals have been thrown into turmoil by the involvement of English clubs in the Champions League and Europa League finals.
The England manager will name his 26-man squad for the tournament on 25 May – he wants to get them together on the weekend of 29-30 May – and they face warmup matches at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium against Austria and Romania on 2 June and 6 June. England kick off the finals against Croatia at Wembley on 13 June.Continue reading...
Manchester United will face Villarreal in the Europa League final after an 8-5 aggregate victory that was closer than it should have been as Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men endured a nervy second half. Here, Roma swept three past the impressive David De Gea which will not please the manager, though Solskjaer’s thoughts can now turn to the Gdansk showpiece and the dream of adorning an ever-improving two-and a-half-season tenure with his first trophy.
Do this and seal second place in the Premier League and United’s trajectory under the Norwegian will be firmly pointing skyward. Solskjær included Donny van de Beek in an XI that included eight of the same players who beat Roma last week. The Dutchman last started in United’s FA Cup defeat at Leicester City in March so what he did not require was for his first pass – aimed at Mason Greenwood – to go straight out.
All eyes on... pic.twitter.com/fZDJp2HnPCContinue reading...
The European Super League fiasco makes this golden age retrospective seem naive in ignoring the club’s commercialisation
This is a perfectly watchable documentary, but events have overtaken it, exposing a crucial naivety. It is about the soap-operatic tragedy and triumph of legendary football club Manchester United, co-written, co-produced and presented by its saturnine bad-boy hero Eric Cantona, and in this version of history, he looms larger than Bobby Charlton or George Best.
Cantona smoulders his way outrageously through his script, though revealing little or nothing about himself, except for one remark about the notorious kung-fu incident against an abusive Crystal Palace fan: “I would ’ave liked to kick him even harder … ” His theme is Manchester United’s 20th-century golden age, from its comeback after the 1958 Munich disaster through to the fairytale ending of the 1999 Uefa Champions League final. And there it stops. The film goes on and on about Manchester United’s European ambition, European vision, European destiny – all those heroic ideals that now look shabby in the light of what we have just experienced: the club’s greedy participation in the European Super League fiasco. The announcement of which, let’s not forget, followed the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward meeting with Boris Johnson’s chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, and briefly with the prime minister himself.Continue reading...
- Manchester United manager calls for ‘civilised’ behaviour
- Liverpool match now rescheduled for 13 May
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has admitted Manchester United fans’ disgruntlement with the Glazers is a “difficult” situation for him and is concerned it could disrupt his team’s progress.
The manager said the behaviour of some fans at Sunday’s protests went too far and that supporters had to conduct themselves in a “civilised manner”.Continue reading...
The documentary Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In explores the life of the legendary footballer and manager, delving into his decades-long career as well as his personal life. While recovering from a brain haemorrhage, Ferguson talks through his most treasured memories. From his upbringing in Govan, meeting his wife Cathy, his playing days at Rangers and the incredible success he had at both Aberdeen and Manchester United. In the trailer, the likes of Eric Cantona and Gordon Strachan provide insight about the greatest manager of all time.Continue reading...
- FAI confirms the news of former player’s passing
- McLoughlin won 42 caps for Republic during career
Alan McLoughlin, the man whose goal took the Republic of Ireland to the 1994 World Cup finals in the US, has died at the age of 54.
The former Portsmouth midfielder revealed in March he was preparing to undergo a course of radiotherapy following surgery to remove a tumour from his vertebrae, nine years after being diagnosed with a kidney tumour. McLoughlin also said he was told in November 2019 that the cancer had spread to his remaining kidney, his chest wall and lung, and that he had been rushed to hospital this year with a fractured neck after his vertebrae had crumbled.Continue reading...
We would like to hear from fans about their protests against the Glazers and how they want the club to change
Manchester United fans have wanted the club’s owners, the Glazer family, to sell up for years. The club’s recent attempt to join the European Super League has given fans fresh momentum in their bid to drive the owners out of the club. Hundreds of supporters joined a protest against the Glazers on Sunday, forcing United’s match against Liverpool to be postponed.
Yet, despite the strength of opposition from the fans, the Glazers say they have no plans to sell the club. Instead, they want to grow the club into a $10bn business. If you are a Manchester United fan, how do you feel about the Glazers’ plans to stay? Will you keep protesting? Will you stop supporting the club? What action will you take?Continue reading...
Large debt, relative lack of trophies since 2013 and failure to engage with fans have made the owners deeply unpopular
No trophy since 2017 and no league title for eight years: the Glazers’ divisive ownership of Manchester United provoked Sunday’s protest at Old Trafford and the Americans are considered (by some) solely responsible for a flatlining of success on the pitch.
A debt that stands at £487m and the £1bn-plus in interest payments servicing this since the Glazers bought United in 2005 have a corollary, the charge goes, in a four-year silverware drought and only three trophies since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped away in 2013, none of which have been league title No 21.Continue reading...
- Owners have no plans to sell in response to protests
- Club could ban fans who misbehaved on Sunday
The Glazers have no plans to sell Manchester United, with the owners long-term vision being to grow the club’s value from its current £3.05bn to $10bn (£7bn).
The future of United under the American family is the focus of renewed scrutiny after Sunday’s protest against their ownership which caused the match with Liverpool to be postponed after some individuals entered Old Trafford.Continue reading...
Outside the Lowry Hotel, people are unsure if demonstrations will work but united about their necessity
There’s a new bit of graffiti on the Trinity Bridge dividing Manchester and Salford: “Fuck United” reads the scrawl on one of the suspension pillars.
It faces the Lowry Hotel, where the Manchester United team were surrounded by angry fans on Sunday, before others broke into Old Trafford, causing the game against Liverpool to be postponed.Continue reading...
Premier League waved through a debt-loading takeover of Manchester United from which the family make fortunes
In 2005, a generation ago now, when supporters were first protesting against the pending takeover of Manchester United by the Glazer family, the approach of the football authorities was mostly to brush off their concerns. There seemed to be a sense among the blazers in the Football Association and the Premier League suits that the fans just did not really understand the mystique of a corporate takeover, or the excitements of having “investors” from America.Continue reading...
- New rules to ‘ensure principles’ of league are protected
- FA and Pemier League open inquiry into Super League
The Premier League has laid out the first stage of its response to the failed plans for a European Super League, insisting the six breakaway clubs will be “held accountable” for their actions and promising a change in regulations to “ensure the principles of the Premier League and of open competition are respected”.
Working alongside the Football Association and other stakeholders in the game, new rules will be developed to “protect our game”, the league has said, including a new “owners’ charter”. It comes at the same time as the FA opens an official inquiry into the abortive ESL, with the governing body requesting the big six clubs hand over “information and evidence” regarding their participation in the scheme.Continue reading...
Jamie from the United We Stand fanzine was one of the supporters who invaded the pitch. He describes the day
Brilliant. Sunday was the best outcome we could have got. It was the plan all along: to get the game delayed or abandoned – that was certainly the intention from a good number of us.
This is all to do with the Glazers. It has been a long time in the making, because we protested in 2005 [when they bought club], and again in 2010. I can understand people saying: “It’s just because you’re not winning things any more.” But that’s not the point – this is about a football club and a community that surrounds it.Continue reading...
Fans show their strength at Old Trafford, Torres comes to the party for Manchester City and Leicester nerves jangle againContinue reading...
- Two police officers injured in ugly clashes
- Thousands of supporters gather outside Old Trafford
Manchester United’s game with Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday was postponed after a planned peaceful protest outside the stadium by fans angry with the club’s owners, the Glazers, spilled into chaotic and violent scenes as a group of about 100 broke into the ground, causing criminal damage and forcing some staff to lock themselves into rooms for safety.
The postponement of the Premier League match between the two most storied clubs in English football to an as yet undetermined date was confirmed almost five hours after supporters gathered at the stadium. It adds further uncertainty to United’s fixture list in a week when they are due to play the second leg of their Europa League semi-final with Roma, and is the most graphic illustration yet of the breakdown of trust between fans and owners.Continue reading...
- ‘They’re deadly serious and this is just the start,’ says Keane
- Neville says action due to ‘distrust and dislike of the owners’
Gary Neville has urged the Glazer family to sell Manchester United after Sunday’s dramatic protests. His remarks came as Roy Keane, another former United captain, also backed the supporters and said “this was just the start” of their campaign to remove the owners.
Neville said he hoped the protests would unite football fans and continue in a “measured, calm and pointed” fashion, after events including disorder and violence forced the postponement of the game against Liverpool at Old Trafford. United’s attempt to join a super league has caused longstanding supporter anger against the Glazers to increase markedly in intensity.Continue reading...
Amid the grievances that have brought fans into the streets in recent weeks there is a yearning to feel something again
A lone saxophonist was playing in the sunshine outside Old Trafford on Sunday evening. This was after the tumult, after the crowds had been pushed back, after the police had regained control of the concourse outside the megastore, before the inevitable 0-0 draw between Manchester United and Liverpool had finally been called off. And on another surreal and poignant day in English football, it was possible to hear in those breezy notes a lament for something that had been lost, something that even now might never be recovered.
Earlier in the day, by all accounts, the mood had been mutinous, bordering on euphoric. We knew on some level that the few dozen United fans who managed to infiltrate the Old Trafford pitch must have been motivated by some intense and bottled anger. But as they cavorted on the famous turf, grabbing souvenirs, hurling tripods, gurning at the deserted directors’ box, they didn’t look particularly angry. They, like those protesting outside, looked giddy with excitement.Continue reading...
Manchester United fans broke into Old Trafford and invaded the pitch, causing the game to be called off
Jonathan Liew’s analysis:
And here are our main pieces:
That’s it from a momentous day, something unseen in Premier League history, the postponement of the grandest fixture in English football. And the delaying of Manchester City’s title.
A reminder of Roy Keane’s words on Sky Sports, words that must have sent the director’s earpiece into overdrive.
The United fans have had enough and they’re doing it because they love the club It’s not just as a result of what’s happened the last two weeks with the Super League...it’s been building for a number of years. They’ve come to the end and feel enough is enough. It’s a huge statement for the game to be called off. There’s been a build-up in tension, whether it be about ticketing, poor communication, things going on in the background. The leadership of the club has not been good enough. When they look at the owners, they feel it’s just about making money. The United fans have looked at the Glazers and thought enough is enough. They’re doing it because they love the club. Some people won’t agree with it, but sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice. This will go out all over the world and hopefully the owners of Manchester United will sit up and take note. These fans are deadly serious and this is just the start of it from United fans - I can guarantee you.
Steve, a Liverpool fans in Liverpool, says: “If today’s riot had have happened at Millwall/Chelsea or, god forbid...Anfield – the reporting (sic) would have been 180 degrees different. By the way – any news on the Liverpool team? Sky were camped outside the vastly overrated Lowry weeping for their team inside. They never showed the slightest interest in Liverpool FC. Disgusting bias dominating English football, on and off the field, for the last 40 years.”
Point made, Steve. See a couple of posts below on the whereabouts of the Liverpool team.
Geoffrey emails in: “Amazing that better security was not arranged. First fixture since the ESL announcement. Always a tie with the potential for crowd problems. The pubs are now sort of open. The Chelsea demo emerged from nowhere but they were warned by this. Liverpool had more to lose, needing to win just about every game. United will cruise to second and CL qualification. United fans will not have wanted to lose today and see the title awarded to City. I think these issues still weigh on the hooligan element. I suppose if the Glazers can’t afford to paint the stadium, they might not be able to afford security!”
Greater Manchester Police have released a statement, saying two officers have been injured and that they will pursue those responsible for those acts, criminal damage and trespassing.
Officers were aware of a protest planned to take place in Old Trafford today (Sunday 2 May) and were working closely alongside partners to ensure those that attended were kept safe whilst enabling their right to peaceful protest.
Early this afternoon, groups of protestors began to gather at Old Trafford and separately at The Lowry Hotel, Salford where the United players were staying. By late afternoon around 200 protestors had gathered outside the Lowry and over 1,000 at Old Trafford.
Footage of Jamie Carragher when the United fans invade the Old Trafford is on heavy rotation on Sky Sports. He looks perturbed to say the least, his eyes running all over the place. And as a Liverpool legend, he was more than likely to somewhat worried.
And the same goes for Liverpool’s team coach, which has now been allowed to leave and is heading back towards the M62.
News from the Lowry Hotel in Salford: the players have finally been allowed to leave. Mission accomplished with the game being called off, it appears the fans staging a blockade outside the hotel have dispersed.
Oliver Dungey emails in: “There’s always a hardcore minority who ruin it for the rest of us. They might have had some valid points but they’ve gone too far and ruined it with their irresponsible actions. I for one hope they are dealt with severely: a so-called ‘legislative bomb’ that will make sure these owners never be able to dismantle the world of football as we all enjoy it today. You can’t let these ruffians get away with it.”
Christoffer Herberts emails in. “The fans are protesting against an owners who for a long time had the largest salary bill in the Premier League, and paid absurd amounts of money for players like Harry Maguire and Paul Pogba. Man Uniteds self-entitled fans are part of the problem, not the solution. To glorify the fact that they today put other people at risk and interrupted the schedule shows that the media need to think about its role as well.”
Those who committed criminal acts may well have to pay the consequences but the sentiment of direct action appears valid. In the current circumstances people are living in, there has been a powerlessness, and this was a taking back of the power no matter how brief that may prove. That’s the situation that gave rise to the events of today. It might be said that launching the Super League during Covid lockdowns was premeditated, but it appears the owners and authorities did not anticipate how hard fans would kick back.
The hope, of course, is that nobody was hurt too seriously. The Premier League show will go on though perhaps a little more cautiously.
One thing to say is that this happened when a social media boycott is taking place, with still only a few journalists and media breaking the embargo that runs until midnight tomorrow. Without such noises off, there was a certain purity to the events, with some of those responsible getting their message out there via Twitter and little dissent against them. Though there was always Graeme Souness. Micah Richards also sat on the fence, though Sky’s broadcast included plenty of supportive words for the protestors from Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher and Roy Keane. Some afternoon’s work for David Jones as anchorman.
Good evening. What else can be said other than that Manchester United and attendant authorities cannot say they were not warned? The Super League idea triggered forces the owners thought they had no reason to answer to. They thought wrong, though such the game’s authorities are almost certain to kick back against what happened.
We’ve hit one million page views, which is faintly absurd but kind of uplifting. I think. My eyes are starting to go, so I’m going to hand over to John Brewin to continue this blog - you can email him at email@example.com. Thanks for your company and emails on another surreal day in a hella surreal season. Night.
It’s also been a good day for the Old Trafford Retirement Community
If you want to follow some actual football, Simon Burnton is your man.
“900,000+ views!” says Nigel Moore. “Shows you it’s not really football that draws in the crowd!”
I’m humbled that somebody has finally recognised the magnetism of my digital persona.
“The madness of the security breach before Manchester United v LFC tainted the art of peaceful protest, and achieved absolutely nothing,” says Nichole Graham. “As a former football steward (for Queens Park Rangers) I was worried about the staff stuck in the middle of that.”
It’s interesting that there is no consensus, which is slightly unusual in an age of groupthink. The emails we’ve received, hundreds of them now, are probably about 60/40 in favour of the protest. But even within that there are differences on each side – some condone everything, others qualify it by condemning the danger to stewards, some just want to laugh at videos of scallies wandering round Old Trafford swigging cans of Red Stripe. Even the Sky Sports team covered the full range of responses.
Page views update: 959,111. I think the highest is 2.5m, or something like that, for Croatia v England in 2018. But this must be a record for a game that didn’t happen.
It’s pretty odd that United were so unprepared for a protest that has been flagged for weeks. I should stress this isn’t a conspiracy theory; I’m very confident it was just complacency and incompetence. Still odd though.
“As the teams were officially announced an hour or so before the scheduled kick off, it should now be mandatory for the fixture to be fulfilled today in a local recreation area or any kind of open space that can be bagged at short notice,” says Derek Walmsley. “As anyone who has double booked a five-a-side pitch at their local sports centre will know, things can get nasty if you have to tell a keyed-up bunch of lads to change out of their kit and make their way back home.
“Therefore, they should use their local knowledge to find somewhere to play a scratch game, with a quick safety inspection to ensure that astroturf boots will work alright on asphalt/concrete/wasteland.”
“Has anyone given any thought,” begins Neil Iversen, “as to how this postponement will affect fantasy football leagues and teams across the country?”
Trust me, with Fernandes and Salah in my team and a fairly slender lead to protect in the Smyth family league, I’ve thought about little else since the original excitement wore off.
We normally get around 100,000 page views for a football liveblog. This one is on 935,400.
These are each team’s remaining fixtures
Man Utd Roma (6 May), Villa (9 May), Leicester (12 May), Fulham (19 May), Wolves (23 May), probable Europa League final (26 May)
The fallout from this is going to be fascinating. Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville are still passionately defending the protests, whereas the presenter Dave Jones keeps highlighting the bits that “went too far”. A hell of a lot is being left unsaid on both sides.
There are plenty of rumours being discussed on Sky. Graeme Souness is speculating that something else has happened that we don’t know about; Roy Keane says he has heard stories of cars being turned over outside the Lowry.
Souness has now said a flare and beercan were thrown at the Sky gantry. “We’re all skirting round it - let’s be honest, someone threw a flare up to this stage today. If that hit one of us we’d be lying in a hospital bed, permanently scarred. That ain’t a laughing matter.”
The discussions on Sky is really interesting, not least because Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville have been encouraged on a number of occasions to criticise the protest, and they haven’t.
“Neville and Keane v Souness and Carra for a game of Wembley Doubles,” says Richard Preston. “Winner gets the points for their team.”
And here’s the Premier League statement
“Following the security breach at Old Trafford, the Manchester United vs. Liverpool game has been postponed. This is a collective decision from the police, both clubs, the Premier League and local authorities.
“The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance. We understand and respect the strength of feeling but condemn all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated COVID-19 breaches. Fans have many channels by which to make their views known, but the actions of a minority seen today have no justification.
“We sympathise with the police and stewards who had to deal with a dangerous situation that should have no place in football. The rearrangement of the fixture will be communicated in due course.”
Manchester United’s official statement
“Following discussion between the Police, the Premier League, Trafford Council and the clubs, our match against Liverpool has been postponed due to safety and security considerations around the protest today. Discussions will now take place with the Premier League on a revised date for the fixture.
No word yet on when it will be played.
The Premier League, police and the two clubs are meeting now to decide when the game should go ahead.
“The uncertainty surrounding the adjusted kickoff time is wreaking havoc with my beer and chips planning,” hics Paul Pooley.
Thanks Will, hello again.
Rob Smyth is back, which is great news for all of you.
The fans also took a ball onto the pitch, so they at least got to live out a lifelong dream of playing on the hallowed turf.
The Glazers do not seem too keen on selling the club, so this process might be dragged out for a while. They might give this concept a bit of a shrug.
Mark Ogden on 5Live says he was told it would take 90 minutes to clean the ‘red zone’ within Old Trafford. This could take a while.
There was a heavy police presence at Old Trafford earlier.
It’s already the top story on 5Live news. One of the most recent callers believes writing a letter to the Glazers would have been a better idea.
The turf is deserted at Old Trafford and the warm up nets are on the pitch. However, there is no news of whether the match will go ahead today (or any other day).
Some individuals did get into the players’ tunnel at Old Trafford so the Premier League’s Covid compliance officer will have to be content that the requisite areas have been disinfected and are safe for the match to take place today.
I’m going to take a quick break, before I have an accident at my desk. Will Unwin will keep you updated for the next 20 minutes or so, cheers.
“I have to say I was disgusted at Graeme Souness’s ill-informed pro-Glazer stance on Sky,” says Steve in Cork. “He said they improved the stadium. They haven’t. The last improvements were made after the Glazers took over but were planned and approved before that. Since then the stadium has been falling apart. When you see it up close it’s rotten and disgusting.
“As for players, the Glazers haven’t put any of their own money in. They haven’t invested anything. The club has bought and sold players based on money it’s earned but when you look at when United have actually spent big money since Ferguson left, it’s only happened when United were outside the Champions League places. The Glazers are happy to sanction some spending to maintain Champions League football and keep the money rolling in but that’s it. It’s all about the illusion of success for the Glazers. They’re happy to do the bare minimum while they bleed the club dry.”
“I was looking forward to a decent game of football this afternoon,” says Pádraig McAuliffe. “However, I’m delighted to see the protests. In modern society, politics is broken and attention spans are short. Things like #MeToo, Windrush, #OscarsSoWhite etc show that change only comes with persistent protest. Football isn’t as important as these things, but it needs reform. Each and every reminder of this is welcome. Measured, rolling protest is the only way forward - a reckoning must be forced.
Our Gary has suggested the game could be played tomorrow afternoon, and points out there are issues around nutrition and preparation if the kick-off is delayed. Roy Keane says, if it was him, he’d rather play. If it was him.
There has just been an announcement at Old Trafford that the stadium is now secure. Still no kick-off time though.
Apparently the match ball and one of the corner flags are on a tour of central Manchester. It’s lovely that, even amid such a furious protest, somebody has found time to pay homage to the travelling gnome from Amelie.
Thanks again for your emails. I’m trying and failing to keep up with them all. I’ve received about five times as many today as I would during a normal game. I’m not sure what the moral of this particularly story is.
If the ground has been cleared, as Sky are suggesting, there are three potential barriers to the match being played:
1. Getting the teams out of their hotels
“Regarding the decision to go ahead or not, Rob,” says Ian Copestake, “do you think this will involve VAR?”
Look, I can see the funny side of most things, but you’ve crossed a line there. A badly drawn line at that.
There are some exceedingly arresting photos in this
In the interest of balance department
“Emails are dominated by the XXX supporters who don’t care about the large numbers of football lovers who don’t give a damn about ‘cold nights in Swansea’,” says Jazi Zilber. “I just spoke with a friend. For him internationals and any game before the CL semis aren’t worth watching. The closed club was wrong. But a Super League with most games being watchable, competitive and with players whose names you know is a brilliant concept!”
It’s worth repeating that NBC are saying there has been a breach of the Covid bubble (4.10pm). If true, it means the game has to be postponed. Technically. I’ve a feeling we haven’t heard the last of this, because the Premier League are reportedly denying that any supporters went into the dressing-rooms.
Peep peep! The game should have been kicking off right now. It may still be played, as the police have managed to clear the forecourt at Old Trafford. But the teams are still at their team hotels.
“It seems any protest these days is a dirty protest,” says Ian Copestake. “While I am sad to be spared seeing us beat Utd only to lose the next three games, I support the right of middle fingers to be raised to the man.”
<Hastings> Or woman <Hastings>
Whatever the strength of feeling about the Glazers - or, indeed, anything - breaking into a venue, going onto property when not allowed is illegal and completely counter-productive to the very sentiment behind the protest. And, the bottom line, is this will have repercussions...
Gary Neville is off on another spectacular one about the European Super League. This-is a million times better than the match would have been.
“I think it would be the right thing to do for the Glazers to sell. Whether they will is another matter. I’ve seen the 50+1 protests - I don’t think that’s implementable in English football, as great as it potentially would be. What I do think is achievable in English football at this time if that every fan in this country - whether it’s an EFL club or a National League club that’s struggling abnd dying like you wouldn’t believe, whether it’s grassroots facilities in the community and you can’t afford to keep your pitches in a good state, whether you’re the 14 Premier League clubs outside the top six - you really know that you’re in danger from those six.
The stadium has been put into another lockdown, a steward has just told the media outside Old Trafford.
Official Premier League update
“After the security breach at Old Trafford we can confirm the Manchester United v Liverpool match will not kick-off at 16:30 BST.
The safety of everyone at Old Trafford is paramount.
At present there is no revised kick-off time. We will update accordingly.”
Thanks for all your emails, which I’m doing my best to sift through. It’s really interesting that, after the initial, instinctive condemnation, there is more and more support for the protests. Gary Neville is off on one again about the Glazers and Florentino Perez.
Roy Keane’s verdict
“I have sympathy with the fans, 100 per cent. It’s a tipping point for them. It was peaceful. One or two bottles were thrown and a couple of flares - I think that was towards Jamie to be fair - but they’ve had enough. Enough’s enough. United have some of the best fans in the world and we’ve seen today that they’ve come to the end with the ownership.”
Possible Covid breach
This is interesting from Chris Metzler.
And here’s Jamie Carragher
“It’s been a peaceful protest in the stadium, I’m not sure about outside. They’re very unhappy at how they’ve been treated, and how the Glazers have taken money out of the club. It’s heightened by what’s happening with the Super League. Yes, we want to see a game of football, and we don’t want any trouble, but I can’t stand here and have a go at Manchester United supporters. My own supporters at Liverpool were doing things 10 or 15 years ago to get Hicks and Gillett out of the club. Whether it will happen with the Glazers, who knows, but as long as it’s peaceful I won’t have a go at any Man Utd fans.”
Gary Neville is choosing his words very carefully on Sky Sports
“This is the consequence of the owners of Manchester United’s actions two weeks ago. There’s a general distrust and dislike of the owners, but people weren’t protesting before this happened. Generally, the Glazer family along with a number of other owners of football clubs in this country were conniving and scheming behind everyone’s back to walk away with the crown jewels. Today we’ve seen people protest at that.”
Sky Sports are saying the protest have been “largely peaceful”. There are various videos doing the rounds, including one of a civilian scoring at the Stretford End with an inelegant free-kick. It’s interesting that the majority of emails so far, about three in every five I’d say, have been in favour of the protest.
“I’m hoping for some Adrian Chiles/Roy Keane-style chit chat on the Man U blog,” writes my colleague John Windmill. “Exactly when does heavy rain become a downpour??”
When Roy Keane says so?
“I understand the fans’ anger, their desire to rid themselves of the cynical corporate influence of their game,” says Mary Waltz. “But unless they plan to carry on this form of protest every week through the rest of this season into the next year it will not change a thing. The Glazers, Kroenkes and Fenway Group owners are pricks of misery who do not care one whit about the public, their opinions.
“They are not used to anyone telling them what to do. They will not sell their teams on the cheap. They will issue anodyne comments, claim that they are sorry for the Super :eague, that they have heard and understand their fans’ complaints, but behind closed doors they will be saying ‘Who do these lowlifes think they are, no one tells me what to do.’”
The referee Michael Oliver is in the ground now, looking at a Sky camera with a quizzical expression and moving his thumb up and down. The teams are still at their respective hotels. My instinct is that there is approximately 0.00 per cent chance of the game being played today.
Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal is the final score in the first Premier League game of the day, which finished a couple of minutes ago.
Here’s more from Jamie Jackson on events in M16
“Hi Rob,” says George Wright. “Please spare a thoughts for the social media commentators unable to share their Very Important Opinions on events at Old Trafford during this weekend’s boycotts. And spare a thought for the rest of us when the floodgates open post-boycott...”
It’s killing me. I’ve got a tweet drafted and everything.
“Can we have a bit of balance?” says Simon Bradley. “As a United fan, I support fans taking their protest inside the stadium. Protest is meant to be disruptive. We’ve put up with 16 years of dreadful capitalist owners sucking the life out our club. Their decision to stick two fingers up to the fans, and indeed the rest of football, by joining the Super League is the final straw for many. I don’t care if the game is postponed, or even if we have to forfeit. It’s a small price to pay for trying to save our club.”
“While I’m inclined to agree with Karine Flores,” says Zach Neeley, “in theory, in reality its the wrong way that usually gets the attention of the powers that be.”
Agreed. Whatever the rights and wrongs, this has been a phenomenally effective protest.
“Afternoon Rob,” says Stephen Carr. “Could we use the delay to have a full and frank discussion about VAR? It feels overdue to be honest.”
I’ve just had a chilling thought. If the kick-off is heavily delayed, the match could overlap with Line of Duty. I’m clocking off at 8.59pm, even if it’s 4-4 with 20 minutes remaining.
“There’s a way to do things,” says Karine Flores, “and storming into Old Trafford and putting the game in jeopardy isn’t the right way!!”
What I really want to know is: where is Michael Oliver? What’s a referee supposed to do in a situation like this?
The Premier League have confirmed the kick-off will be delayed. They haven’t said when, or if, the match will begin.
“Surely if the match is postponed United will simply have to forfeit the game,” says Declan O’Brien. “It’s a complete failure on their behalf to ensure the safety of all those involved. If they do postpone it, it could come after fans are allowed into the stadiums again, thus gaining them an advantage, inconveniencing the opposition and greatly increasing the chances of further fan unrest.”
I hadn’t thought about that. It might end up in the courts, especially if Liverpool qualify for the Champions League ahead of, say, Chelsea.
“The media are currently being kept at a distance at the back of the Stretford End while searches continue inside Old Trafford for fans who entered the stadium. No word yet on when, or if, media will be allowed entry. Arrival to the ground was very straightforward and strict security-wise, which raises the question of how so many people were able to get inside the stadium from the opposite corner of Old Trafford.
“There was a small crowd of anti-Glazer protesters at the gates on John Gilbert Way. The gates were locked and opened only for those of us in cars with passes for the game, which were checked at three different security points before you were able to park up. A helicopter is hovering above Old Trafford and, right on cue, the heavens have opened.”
“As an American, I’m very impressed by this show of fan intensity, I simply can’t imagine Cowboys fans taking over the stadium before a game because they’re sick of Jerry Jones. I’m curious if it reads any differently there, more complicated because of the history of fan violence that Britain has worked so hard to reduce.”
I’d imagine there are thousands of desperately frustrated people who would like to signal their disapproval via social media.
This is a bit weird: they’ve announced the teams an hour before the scheduled kick-off.
Oh, you want to actually know what they are? Fair enough.
There are unconfirmed reports of utter bloody chaos. I’d say there’s no chance of this game going ahead.
“Given the level of entertainment from recent United/Liverpool games,” says David Wall, “would it be more of an anti-climax if the game went ahead or if it gets called off?”
Heh, very good. If it’s postponed, which looks increasingly inevitable, I wonder when they’ll play it. The only window, as far as I can see, is FA Cup final day.
Sky are reporting that the referee Michael Oliver has been turned away from the stadium. I think it’s fair to assume this game won’t be kicking off at 4.30pm.
Whether the game goes ahead or not - and the Premier League are confident it will - there are serious questions to be asked regarding security, with the club and Greater Manchester Police hardly appearing to be on top of a situation they should have pre-empted. It should also be noted that last week United’s Carrington training base was also breached by a group of individuals.
The Premier League remained hopeful that the match would start on time with police having secured the area of the pitch, as they continued to work on making the outside safe for the teams to arrive. But the press have now just been asked to leave.
The Premier League are still saying the game will go ahead at 4.30pm. They say there has been no breach of Covid regulations because nobody has been in the dressing-rooms.
Some people are on the pitch, etc
Sky Sports are saying that the teams will not leave their hotels until “they are happy that the stadium and its perimeter are secure”. There’s no chance this match is happening, is there.
I suppose that’s one way to stop City winning the league today. Manchester United v Liverpool, which is scheduled to kick off at 4.30pm, is in doubt after a spectacular anti-Glazer protest at Old Trafford and in the city centre. The Man Utd players are still stuck in the Lowry Hotel, and hundreds of fans managed to get on the Old Trafford pitch. We’ll have more news as it happens. In the meantime, here’s Jamie Jackson’s news story.Continue reading...
Glazer family took control of club in 2005 with more than £500m debt, causing much fan unrest ever since
2003 Malcolm Glazer buys a 2.9% stake in Manchester United in March, which increases before the end of the year.
2004 Glazer’s stake in club reaches almost 20% in June and nears 30% in October. He makes bids for the club in October and December and removes three directors.Continue reading...