Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United’s rescheduled Premier League clash with Liverpool on Thursday was again overshadowed by fan protests outside Old Trafford against United’s owners, the Glazer family.
The fixture was postponed 11 days ago when supporters stormed the pitch and a protest turned into violent clashes with police.
Two officers were injured on May 2 as objects were thrown at police and horses as they moved into disperse the crowd.
United players arrived at the stadium several hours before the scheduled 1915 GMT kick-off to avoid a repeat of the scenes when they were barricaded inside their hotel by protesters last weekend.
Liverpool players arrived little over an hour before kick-off in what is a crucial match for their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
United are guaranteed to finish second or third in the table and will face Villarreal in the Europa League final on May 26.
However, anger towards the Glazers has been reignited by United’s part in a failed European Super League (ESL) project, that collapsed within 48 hours last month due to a backlash from fans, players, governments and governing bodies.
United and Liverpool were reportedly two of the leading drivers behind the project that sought to guarantee top level European football for 15 founder members every season without the need to qualify on the pitch.
The club’s co-chairman Joel Glazer has apologised for signing up to the ESL and acknowledged that better communication is required with fans.
A heavy police presence has been put in place to form a ring around the stadium for both United’s two home matches this week.
The Red Devils are due to open their doors to fans for the first time this season in their next home game against Fulham on May 18 with up to 10,000 in attendance.
“What we are seeing (outside the stadium) which is effectively Manchester United turned into a prison,” former United captain Gary Neville told Sky Sports.
“It’s a devastating image for the club and its brand around the world. Let’s note that.
“If you have to put prison walls outside your ground and have hundreds and hundreds of police officers at a game where fans aren’t attending, something has gone badly wrong.”