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English Premier League

Manchester United already planning Beijing return as disastrous China tour ends

United vice chairman says he is sure the club will return to play in the Bird’s Nest in the future

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 July, 2016, 12:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 July, 2016, 12:46pm

No sooner have Manchester United’s players and staff drawn a line under their failed Beijing trip, than executives are planning a return to the Chinese capital.

Vice chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement: “We know our fans in China will, like the players and staff, be saddened by the cancellation of the match but I am sure they appreciate that the player safety has to be the top priority.

“I am sure we will return to the Bird’s Nest in the future to give them the chance to see the team in action.”

The cancellation of the International Champions Cup match six hours before it was scheduled to be played on Monday was the culmination of a disastrous few days for the travelling party.

First, United were forced to make the journey to Beijing on two separate flights – one of which had to be diverted to nearby Tianjin and resulted in half the squad only reaching Beijing in the early hours of Monday morning.

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Then the teams were made to train at the Olympic Sports Village at short notice rather than the National Stadium pitch after an inspection showed the playing surface to be a sopping jigsaw of loose, fungus-damaged turf.

Finally, managers Jose Mourinho and his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola endured farcical conditions at the scheduled media conferences when temperatures soared while officials struggled to control the heat, and the gathered press pack.

Guardiola managed to fulfil his media commitments in the scorching press room, while a stoney-faced Mourinho decamped to the side of a training pitch for his media conference, which was likened to a “zoo”.

Opponents Manchester City now to head to Shenzhen where they will face Borussia Dortmund, who thrashed United 4-1 on Friday, but both teams’ preseason programmes have been thrown into disarray by the cancellation, and the effects of the ultimately wasted trip to Beijing could be felt at the start of the Premier League season.

Manchester United’s next engagement is in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Sunday against Turkish side Galatasaray.