Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has said it was not to blame after Jose Mourinho suggested the lack of police escort caused his team to arrive late for the Champions League clash vs. Valencia at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
United arrived at Old Trafford just 45 minutes before the game forcing UEFA to push back kick-off by five minutes. Mourinho explained afterwards that traffic problems on the route from their meeting point at the Lowry Hotel to the stadium had caused the delay and pointed the finger at police for not providing an escort.
However, on Wednesday morning GMP issued a statement insisting the club knew the rules and were given “adequate time” to plan their journey.
“All police deployments are carried out following a comprehensive risk assessment process and specifically in respect of escort team buses, are only ever undertaken on occasions when there is intelligence or information to suggest a risk of threat or harm to the players,” said Chief Inspector Andy Sutcliffe, GMP’s Silver Commander for the Manchester United vs. Valencia fixture.
“GMP has previously used police vehicles to accompany a team’s coach but after a review of our core policing responsibilities, it was decided that we would no longer provide this service at every fixture. We consulted with the relevant football clubs over a period of months to allow them adequate time to plan ahead for their journeys to the stadium.
“Every fixture is assessed individually and we will continue to work with all clubs to provide an appropriate policing response.”
United have a history of arriving late for games, particularly in London during Louis van Gaal’s reign.
ESPN repots Mourinho likes to arrive as late as possible to games to avoid players becoming restless in the dressing room. The departure time from the Lowry Hotel was his decision and it was the same for every Champions League home fixture.
“We left the hotel at 6 p.m. hoping that 30 minutes would be enough which normally is but this time the police refused to do an escort so we come by ourselves and we took from the Lowry hotel 75 minutes and UEFA were nice, the referee was nice to allow us to start the game five minutes later because we at least need half hour to be prepared,” Mourinho said after the 0-0 draw.
“It was not a problem with the club organisation. We anticipate everything that it could be dangerous, in the sense of arriving late but we were informed the police refused an escort.”