Manchester United attempt to host Liverpool at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Thursday evening. It’s a 20:15 BST kick-off, which gives local fans time to finish work, have dinner, and grab a drink before making their way to the ground.
They will be greeted by riot police and their dogs, with barriers erected across the stadium on the East Stand forecourt, all expenses paid courtesy of the Glazers. Which shows the owners can move pretty quickly on an issue when they want to.
#mufc women players were unable to shower in between training and meals before makeshift portacabins were installed, while the nearest toilets are a 10-minute walk from their training pitch. Upgrades that were promised by the club have not happened. [Mail]— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) May 12, 2021
And presumably why Casey Stoney has had enough, too. The club’s briefed response to Stoney’s departure was to offer “medium-term investment that will increase and improve facilities” and an overall long term “need” to revamp Old Trafford and its training complex with the “intention” of integrating the women’s team. Which, if you’ll excuse the cynicism, sounds like steaming hot bullshit and, at best, absolutely miles off.
It is worth keeping that in mind in the hours leading up to kick-off on Thursday and should the Liverpool game get delayed or even cancelled again. There aren’t many things bigger than the team – but the Glazers’ relentless pillaging of the club over the last 16 years is, unfortunately, one of them. It will be a wrench for United’s manager, coaching staff, and players to be denied this fixture, but direct action is working and the pressure on the owners needs to be maintained. The letter from Joel Glazer is merely buying time to ride out the current strength of feeling mobilised by supporters until the stadium starts filling up again next season and let apathy set in.
In many ways, it’s the perfect time in the perfect season to generate a big, fat asterisk on United’s 2020/21 record. Here are five things we want from United 0 Liverpool 0.
The Premier League may have been clever to ensure United don’t play at home again over a weekend when rescheduling the cancelled fixture, but the latest possible kick-off time makes it feasible for fans to turn up and little room for extended delays.
In the previous protest leading up to the match, the weather cleared and, along with it being bank holiday Sunday in the UK, attendance in the forecourt outside the ground was pleasingly high. All these elements contributed to a mostly jovial, colourful affair with a broad mix of ages in attendance. Sideways rain would not be at all helpful. The forecast for Thursday earlier in the week was heavy rain in Manchester [pundit’s joke here], but thankfully it’s now not looking too bad. Fingers crossed for some sunshine early evening.
Presenter Dave Jones realising he’s got to do more padding as kick-off is in jeopardy, director in his ear steering the narrative. So you’re saying we’re not whipping up outrage as implored in the Burnley game when the Super League story broke, Dave? Graeme Souness having another breakdown. Lots of staring at shoes. Roy Keane refusing to tow the Sky party line despite Dave’s best attempts to get him onside. Gary Neville having a chat with Jürgen Klopp.
More banners, more green and yellow flares, more noise, in such collective numbers it makes your heart swell. And not a plane banner in sight.
United fans are risking Liverpool being awarded a 3-0 win and them scraping a Champions League spot should the game get cancelled. Not a lot of research is required to understand the nuances in these protests.