Tensions threatened to boil over again outside Old Trafford after Manchester United fans gathered once more to protest the Glazer ownership ahead of their rescheduled match with Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s side travel to Old Trafford after their May 2 clash was postponed after fans broke into Old Trafford and invaded the pitch before kick-off.
United have bolstered security presence ahead of tonight’s fixture, due to kick off at 8.15pm BST, with dozens of security staff and Greater Manchester Police officers seen preparing additional barriers outside Old Trafford.
Supporters have flocked to United’s ground in their masses to voice their grumblings with the club’s American billionaire owners, letting off yellow and green flares while displaying anti-Glazer banners.
Tensions threatened to boil over at Old Trafford as Man United fans gathered in protest again
Anti-Glazer protesters have congregated to voice their grumblings over the Glazer ownership
United fans are desperate for their billionaire owners to sell up after years of steady decline
United’s pre-match preparations have been altered in anticipation of further protests
United have bolstered police and security presence as a result of the chaos earlier this month
There had been concerns over a delay to tonight’s kick off after images circulating on social media showed a vehicle believed to be an official Liverpool bus blocked off in a side street in Manchester.
The Athletic reporter Daniel Taylor said that the tyres of the bus had been slashed and police were swiftly on the scene to ensure that the vehicle could move on.
However, Klopp’s squad appear to not have been on that bus, with his side seen arriving at Old Trafford in a black coach at roughly 7pm, an hour and 15 minutes before kick off.
Ahead of the rearranged date tonight, security staff took every precaution in formulating a plan well in advance to prevent a repeat protest from fans.
A Liverpool bus was reportedly blocked and had its tyres let down ahead of United game
Images on social media showed an official bus blocked off in a side street in Manchester
Police swiftly set about getting the bus moving in a bid to avoid a repeat of the chaos on May 2
United stars also altered their normal routine as they drove themselves into Old Trafford in the early afternoon to beat fans to the stadium, having found themselves barricaded in the Lowry Hotel when chaos dominated the build-up to the original meeting.
‘Nothing different for us, the most important thing for us now is to focus on the game,’ United star Bruno Fernandes told Sky Sports from inside Old Trafford.
Thursday’s protests are understood to be ‘calm and peaceful’, according to Sky Sports, with large swathes of fans gathering in their masses to let off yellow and green flares while displaying anti-Glazer banners.
Sportsmail revealed on Wednesday that United mounted a top-secret operation to stop anti-Glazer protesters from disrupting their plans for Thursday’s re-arranged clash with Liverpool.
Liverpool arrived at Old Trafford in a black coach, different to the coach that had been blocked
German coach Jurgen Klopp departs the team bus as the squad arrived at Old Trafford
Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino gets off the team coach before the game on Thursday
United have adopted a siege mentality, with players sworn to secrecy prior to the day of the game over their preparations and staff were given information on a need-to-know basis to avoid leaks and limit the security threat.
The club are trying to prevent a repeat of the scenes that caused the fixture to be postponed 11 days ago when protesters blocked the team from leaving the Lowry Hotel and hundreds more clashed with police at Old Trafford.
Last week, the departure time from Carrington for the Europa League semi-final against Roma in Italy was kept under wraps until the last minute amid rumours that fans might try to sabotage the team bus en route to Manchester Airport.
The players stayed at home before Tuesday’s game against Leicester and were only told on Monday night to meet at the training ground before travelling to the stadium.
Players arrived at the ground this afternoon in a bid to avoid delays seen earlier this month
Security has been bolstered ahead of tonight’s top flight game with added police presence
Sportsmail understands plans changed again ahead of Thursday night’s game against Liverpool. There was visibly tighter security to prevent further disturbances after it became the first Premier League fixture to be called off due to a protest.
United showed off a heavy police presence for the home game against Leicester on Tuesday, the first match at Old Trafford since the Liverpool postponement.
A 10ft high red wall was erected at the south-east corner of the stadium – where protesters twice broke in and got onto the pitch – as well the north forecourt in front of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.
Additional steel barriers were also put in place as part of the heightened security operation.
Having prepared for a peaceful protest last time out which then descended into violence, the club are now trying to ensure that their three remaining home games of the season go ahead safely.
Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer called for calm following the ugly scenes at the start of the month, asking fans to keep the peace if they are to protest and make their voices heard once again.
The United boss said: ‘Security measures are being looked at, of course, and I hope that we can keep the protests – if there are protests – down to loud voices, nothing violent.
‘We want to listen. The players want to play the game.
‘We play Liverpool. Of course we want to beat Liverpool, we want to beat Leicester. So, we’re going to do everything we can for our fans to celebrate what we’re doing on the pitch.’