A Manchester United fan holds an anti-Glazer poster in the air
Manchester United fans protested against the club’s owners – the Glazer family

Hundreds of Manchester United fans protested against the club’s ownership at Old Trafford in the hours leading up to their home match against Liverpool.

The fixture was postponed due to protests on 2 May and similar scenes were expected before Thursday’s game.

The United team arrived at around 14:00 BST in order to ensure stadium access.

Liverpool arrived around 19:00 BST on unmarked buses after the club’s official bus was blocked by protesters on a street close to the stadium.

The official bus was on its way to pick up Liverpool’s squad when it was stopped but the club moved to use its other two coaches to get the players to the ground.

Greater Manchester Police said two arrests had been made.

Reacting to protests before the rescheduled fixture, the club’s former player and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said: “Let us be clear with what we are seeing, which is effectively Manchester United turned into a prison.

“It’s a devastating image for the club and its brand around the world.”

Manchester United’s players used beds brought into the stadium in order to rest before the fixture.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “We reported a little bit earlier but we’ve had lunch, meetings, a pre-match meal as normal and we’re ready to play a game.

“We’ve tried to keep it as close to normal as possible. The early reporting time is a little bit different but they’ve been very good at adjusting and adapting. My players are very focused to show what kind of team they are and what kind of club Manchester United is.”

Manchester United fans
Fans used smoke cannisters outside Old Trafford

The game became the first fixture in Premier League history to be postponed due to fan protests when it was called off earlier this month.

Fans broke into the stadium on the day and police were injured by fans, with one man arrested this week.

The protests followed United’s decision, along with five fellow Premier League clubs, to join the European Super League (ESL), before subsequently all pulling out.

United co-chairman Joel Glazer has since written to the club’s supporters and is expected to meet with fans when the season ends.

Charlie Brooks, director of communications at Manchester United, told Sky Sports: “The owners absolutely do care about the club. They are committed in the long term.

“We’re in a situation where all the fans want to see, the staff want to see and the owners want to see continued success – and that’s what we need to build towards.”

‘Police presence felt’ – analysis

Mounted police were in place at the stadium, where arrests were made before kick-off
Mounted police were in place at the stadium, where arrests were made before kick-off

BBC Sport football reporter Simon Stone:

The protests were not on the same scale as the postponed fixture but they were still noisy and retained a lot of the anger from 11 days previously.The major difference this time around was the amount of police and security around.When the fans moved from the front of the stadium to the back, a line of police, with vans behind them, blocked the entrance to Old Trafford.A couple of flares were thrown, more anti-Glazer songs were sung – but just as it was happening, the top of the Liverpool buses were visible as they moved into the complex through a different entrance.Manchester United will probably regard it as a success. However, next Tuesday, there are supposed to be 10,000 fans at the final home game of the season against Fulham.That will be another test entirely.

Old Trafford
A substantial police presence was in place around the stadium
Manchester United fans
Fans arrived with banners and placards detailing their wish for the club’s owners to leave

Source: BBC

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