Following their protests that forced the original Manchester United-Liverpool match to be postponed, United fans voiced their opposition to the club’s owners once more on Thursday at the rescheduled match between the two Premier League rivals.
The match was originally scheduled for May 2 but had to be postponed due to fan protests, which resulted in a group of fans making their way onto the Old Trafford pitch.
On Thursday, fans protested the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United with flares and chants outside the stadium.
Although the game was not disrupted, police confirmed two arrests “related to public order offences,” and the teams were forced to change their pre-match schedules to accommodate the protests.
United’s players arrived at the stadium over seven hours before kickoff instead of their usual routine of staying at a hotel, opting to eat and rest inside the stadium.
In the end, Liverpool won 4-2 against United, thanks in part to a double from Roberto Firmino.
However, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed that the disruption to his team’s preparations caused by fan protests was not to blame for the defeat.
“Once we were in, it was all focus on the game. But it is a different preparation coming in at noon for a quarter-past eight kickoff, it’s a long time to be here but I thought the boys managed that well,” he told Reuters.
“Of course, it disrupted us a little bit so it’s not been ideal but we had to deal with it.”
Following the unpopular European Super League (ESL) – a multibillion-dollar competition comprised of 12 of Europe’s biggest teams, in which six of England’s top clubs signed up, including Manchester United – United fans’ dissatisfaction with the Glazers has grown.
Although the ESL collapsed less than 48 hours after its announcement, the lack of fan consultation galvanized many supporters, not just at United, who are determined to reclaim some semblance of control over their clubs.
Following widespread criticism from fans, the media, and politicians, the six founding Premier League members eventually withdrew from the ESL, beginning with Chelsea and Manchester City, following widespread criticism by fans, the media, politicians and even royalty.
The schism between United’s supporters and its US owners sparked massive protests – some of which turned violent – outside Old Trafford 10 days ago, with police estimating over 1,000 protesters invaded the pitch ahead of the match against Liverpool.
Manchester United supporters set off flares in protest of the Glazer family.
Around 200 people gathered outside The Lowry Hotel in Salford, where the Manchester United players were staying ahead of the game.
The game was eventually rescheduled for Thursday, and the fans showed up once more to express their displeasure with the Glazers.
The United team’s early arrival at the stadium alleviated any potential travel issues, but it meant that players had to eat their pre-match meals in the stadium rather than at a hotel, as is customary.
In Manchester’s city centre, an official Liverpool bus was also blocked on a street by protestors’ cars. Liverpool’s players and staff eventually arrived more than an hour before kickoff.
In addition to the two arrests, Greater Manchester Police stated that they were aware of a “small number of people seem intent on disrupting the fixture.”
“We have been working closely with Manchester United and partners to ensure those in attendance outside the stadium are kept safe while exercising their right to a peaceful protest,” Chris Sykes, GMP’s assistant chief constable, said.
“The safety of all those concerned remains GMP’s main priority. We encourage everyone to remember we are still living under restrictions due to the pandemic and have a collective responsibility to remain safe and protect one another.
“Enforcement remains our last resort, but anyone who’s behaviour crosses the boundary into a criminal offence should expect to be prosecuted.”
Despite the protests, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stated that his team was not hampered by them.
“No, we were not aware of that,” he told the Liverpool official website. “We got the information, something happened to our bus and so we had to change the bus, but it was before we were in [it].”
“Our ride to the stadium was completely fine, the police did an incredible job. I am not sure if, for us, they were needed, but they were there and so we didn’t recognize any trouble or whatever. We just heard about it, that there was something, but it didn’t disturb us or our preparation or whatever.”
When the game did begin, the hosts were the first to get going, with Bruno Fernandes’ deflected effort giving them the lead.
But Liverpool stormed back, scoring three times without reply after having a penalty overturned by the video assistant referee, the first from Diogo Jota before Firmino’s double.
With his scuffed goal, Marcus Rashford set up a tense finish, but Mohamed Salah’s breakaway goal in the dying moments sealed a crucial victory for Liverpool in its pursuit of a top-four finish in the Premier League and a place in next season’s Champions League.
The win moves Liverpool up to fifth in the Premier League, and a win at West Brom on Sunday will bring them within one and three points of FA Cup finalists Chelsea and Leicester, who still have to play each other.