Monday, 25 July 2016

Manchester United & City Managers Condemn Pitch in Beijing Ahead of Friendly Match @ July 25, 2016, 7.30pm

Manchester United and Manchester City's farcical friendly: An emergency landing, thousands of miles and an unsafe pitch... and all for a few million more in the bank

Manchester United and Manchester City meet in a friendly in Beijing

The game has descended into farce, with the pitch riddled with fungus

Poor weather conditions mean the teams have been training elsewhere 

Both managers are more concerned with keeping players injury-free

Jose Mourinho says he wants to 'play safe and go home' ahead of season

Pep Guardiola insists the managers will shake hands before the match


PUBLISHED: 21:03 GMT, 24 July 2016 | UPDATED: 21:44 GMT, 24 July 2016

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola were meant to meet in Beijing as arch rivals on Monday, but the two managers were united in their condemnation of the pitch for the first Manchester derby on foreign soil as their tour of China descended into farce.

The pair dismissed any doubts that they will shake hands at the Bird's Nest Stadium — if indeed the game goes ahead after more heavy showers, which began again on Sunday night — and expressed concerns that the poor surface could put their players at risk three weeks before the start of the new Premier League season.

City's deputy groundsman Craig Knight has spent the past 10 days in the Chinese capital trying to fix the problem after the pitch, which is not normally used for football games, was affected by fungus.


Pep Guardiola was feeling the heat as he spoke to the press in China ahead of Manchester City's friendly


Jose Mourinho's press conference had to be moved outside due to the sweltering heat in Beijing on Sunday


Manchester City released their new away kit on the Great Wall of China, but they are looking forward to leaving

Manchester City players put through intense training drills

Some turf has been relaid but then damaged by persistent rain during the typhoon season, with 70 local staff working day and night to get it ready in time for Monday's kick-off at 12.30pm UK time.

Mourinho insisted that his players' welfare is paramount, and urged both teams to hold back rather than risk hurting themselves chasing a meaningless victory.

He said: 'City versus United for me is Old Trafford or the Etihad or a Cup final at Wembley, not a friendly. It was a friendly before we knew the conditions. After we know the conditions, it's maybe a double friendly. I just hope the players keep that balance and there are no problems — no injuries, play calm, play safe, go home, keep the preparation next week.

'The pitch is very bad. It's not the conditions to play a good game of football but we have to play.

'The conditions of my players are more important than results in pre-season. It's not a problem for me to lose matches in pre-season. So if you ask me my objective for the match, I only have one: take the players home safe without any kind of injury.'

Both teams were forced to switch their training sessions to the neighbouring Olympic Sports Centre on Sunday as the wisdom of visiting the Far East at this time of year was once again brought into question.

Mourinho wore the look of a man who couldn't get out of China fast enough during a chaotic press conference that was first cancelled due to the insufferable heat and then reconvened outdoors.


Mourinho watches Wayne Rooney, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones and Marcus Rashford in action in training


Manchester City's players also trained in the Olympic Sports Center stadium due to the Bird's Nest surface


Midfielder Ander Herrera waves to fans during Manchester United's training session on Sunday

The new United manager then stood reluctantly in front of a scrum of reporters and cameramen shortly before executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward arrived fresh from talks with Juventus and Paul Pogba's representatives to be greeted by members of the Glazer family.

Mourinho added: 'We cannot just run away and disappear and not play. We have to do the commercial activity which is very important for our club. We try to do it in the best organised way but sometimes there are factors you cannot control. Tomorrow (Monday) is the last day and it's over. Then we can go home and train in good conditions where the players feel good and safe.'

Seven hours earlier, Guardiola had endured the suffocatingly hot and humid conditions to express similar concerns. Asked what he hoped to achieve from the game, he said: 'No injuries. We didn't see the pitch but the information we have is there could be a lot of rain so it's not in good condition.


Mourinho prepared his players for the friendly clash with Manchester City during a training session


Sergio Aguero (right) is one of the high-profile names on tour with Manchester City in China this week

Luke Shaw says it's a 'fresh start' under Mourinho

'We're going to adjust but the most important thing is that people aren't going to be injured.

'Today all the big clubs in the world are coming here to China. The club decides. The humidity and the conditions for training are not ideal but we have to adapt.'

The bad weather also disrupted United's journey from Shanghai to Beijing when one of their planes had to make an emergency landing in Tianjin, 75 miles from Beijing, and was delayed on the Tarmac as winger Memphis Depay posted a video on social media claiming to be 'lost in China'. The players on board eventually arrived at the team's hotel after midnight.

Mourinho confirmed: 'The ones in the first plane were lucky because we landed safely. We were in the hotel in good condition to have dinner. The second group was unlucky. The plane was not good, they had a storm and had to land for a couple of hours. They tried to come by bus, then they got the plane and they arrived in the hotel to have dinner at one o'clock in the morning.'


Manchester City manager Guardiola will come up against Mourinho on Monday at the Bird's Nest


Some of Manchester City's biggest names train on the pitch at the Olympic Sports Center stadium in Beijing

Manchester United's Jose Mourinho gets ready to leave for China

The game will not even be a sell-out because of the high ticket prices. They cost between £60 and £300 and fewer than 50,000 have been sold for the game which already has a reduced capacity of 60,000.

The shambles has overshadowed the resumption of Mourinho's rivalry with Guardiola which dates back to their time in Spain as coaches of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Mourinho objected to suggestions that they might not shake hands, saying: 'Of course, I shake his hand. Why shouldn't we? We worked together in Barcelona for three years. We were opponents in other clubs, but we are just professionals and we have normal relations.'

Guardiola said: 'Why should he not shake my hand? No reason. He wants to win, I want to win. But it's a friendly game — a really friendly game.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3706018/Manchester-United-Manchester-City-s-farcical-friendly-emergency-landing-thousands-miles-unsafe-pitch-million-bank.html#ixzz4FNrOABOt 

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