Man United keep Liverpool match plans a secret, fear for more fan protests

Manchester United fans protest against their owners before the Manchester United v Liverpool Premier League match - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 2, 2021 Manchester United fans protest against their owners outside the stadium before the match [Reuters, Phil Noble]

Manchester United are keeping their pre-match plans for the game against Liverpool a secret – with some of their own staff even being left in the dark – as they fear fan protests ahead of the rearranged fixture.

The fixture between English football’s two most successful clubs on May 2 had to be postponed after hundreds of fans attempted to stop the players from leaving their hotel and then broke into Old Trafford ahead of the match.

The supporters were protesting against their owners after animosity towards the Glazer family was heightened once again following their plan to take the club into the European Super League.

The club have since taken a number of steps to reduce the potential impact of fan protests ahead of fixtures.

Ahead of the Europa League semi-final with Roma, the club tried to keep the departure time under wraps because they feared fans trying to stop the team from boarding their flight at Manchester Airport.

The players were only told about plans to meet for the midweek defeat to Leicester the night before and The Mail states plans for Thursday night’s game with Liverpool are also being kept a secret from staff unless they need to know.

United have also ramped up security at Old Trafford, building a 10-foot wall and installing steel barriers to protect areas the club deem the most vulnerable, which include the corner of the ground where fans broke in on May 2.

The training ground has also seen security staff increased from 15 to 50 after fans broke into Carrington in April.

With both United and Liverpool’s American owners heavily involved with the failed European Super League proposals, there are more fan protests expected at Old Trafford tonight.

Manchester, Britain - May 2, 2021 Manchester United fan sitting on the crossbar in protest against their owners before the match [Reuters, Carl Recine]

But manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer called on supporters to not force another postponement in advance of the match with Leicester.

“Security measures are being looked at, of course, and I hope that we can keep the protests - if there are protests - down to loud voices, nothing violent,” he said.

“We want to listen. The players want to play the game.

“We play Liverpool. Of course we want to beat Liverpool, we want to beat Leicester.

“So, we’re going to do everything we can for our fans to celebrate what we’re doing on the pitch.”

While the United boss admitted the difficulty in organising a side to play three matches in five days after Sunday’s win at Aston Villa.

“Changes? I don’t know. We’ll sit down with the sports scientists (on Sunday),” he added.

“We can have a theoretical team now but we’ll have to see how they react when they come in (Monday), when they come in Tuesday morning and pick a team Tuesday afternoon.”